A school district in Washington state is facing criticism after a teacher at one of its elementary schools read a book promoting transgender advocacy to her students.
Young America’s Foundation, a conservative youth advocacy organization, received a tip that Jennifer Miller, a first grade teacher at Geneva Elementary School in Bellingham, Washington, located North of Seattle, read her students a children’s book titled, I am Jazz.
The book, co-authored by LGBT activist Jessica Herthel and trans-identified reality TV star Jazz Jennings, tells the story of a 2-year-old boy who begins the process of "transitioning" to look more like a girl with the approval of his parents.
According to Amazon's description of the book, I am Jazz tells “the story of a transgender child based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere.”
In a Feb. 16 email to Miller, a concerned parent asked Miller: “Did you read this book to 1st graders today?” Miller responded in the affirmative.
“Yes I did read this book,” she replied in a Feb. 17 email. “As a district we are working hard to support all members of our school community and promote inclusion through understanding and compassion.”
Kara Zupkus, a spokeswoman for Young America’s Foundation, said in a Friday interview with The Christian Post that the concerned parent reached out to their tipline last week. The parent was “very angry and … frustrated that he hadn’t heard anything from the school board and that his concerns weren’t being addressed,” Zupkus said.
While Miller expressed a desire to “answer any questions” the parent had or “talk about any concerns” in her response email to the parent, Zupkus told CP that the conversation that resulted from that exchange “did not make much headway.”
As “they continued to disagree” about the appropriateness of exposing young children to I am Jazz, “the parent ended up pulling his kid out of this teacher’s class,” Zupkus said.
“When the parent reached out to the school board president, she just responded with a very standard form response, such as, ‘We have received your response, thank you for your inquiry.’ And beyond that, she never returned the parent’s email,” Zupkus added.
After investigating the school board president further, Young America’s Foundation discovered that she owns a sex toy shop called “Wink Wink.”
Zupkus explained that the parent also reached out to Bellingham Public Schools Superintendent Greg Baker. When Baker asked to talk about the matter over the phone instead of by email, the parent agreed, as long as he was allowed to record the conversation. Since Baker declined to allow the parent to record the conversation, they never spoke.
The fact that first grade students were exposed to a book promoting LGBT advocacy is an example of the “sad state of affairs for public education” Zupkus said, predicting that this incident would “inspire other students and other parents to push for school choice because, she added, we can’t allow things like this to keep happening in our public schools.”
“It’s insanity. They’re really pushing a leftist agenda with no apologies. And parents need to hold their school board members accountable. They need to hold their teachers accountable, the superintendent, everyone needs to be held accountable,” she continued. “So it really is up to the parents when it involves children this young to get involved.”
Responding to the controversy in a message proclaiming that “Diversity enhances a strong and healthy community,” Baker slammed the “hate speech and harassment based on our values as a district and our commitment to equitable, diverse, and inclusive education.”
He defended use of the book as consistent with “our values in the strategic plan, The Bellingham Promise." He praised its message that “all people are unique and wonderful.”
“Out of respect to families and children’s privacy, as well as to comply with federal privacy law, we aren’t able share details about our communications with families," Bellingham Public Schools Communications Manager Dana Smith said in a statement to The Christian Post. "However, we are confident that when families contact us with concerns, we respond in a timely manner.”
Bellingham Public Schools is not the first school district to draw the ire of outraged parents for exposingtheir children to I am Jazz.
In 2015, an elementary school in Maine faced criticism after a guidance counselor at the school read the book aloud to first grade students. In response to concerns from parents, the superintendent of the school district released a statement stressing that “If a topic is considered sensitive, parents should be informed.”
I am Jazz is one of several children’s books designed to expose young children to LGBT advocacy and progressive ideology in general. Other examples of progressive children’s literature include A is for Activist,Woke Baby and The GayBCs.
In response to what she described as the “progressive literature craze,” conservative YouTube personality Lauren Southern wrote her own children’s book, The ABC’s of Morality, to counter the progressive phenomenon. The book made it to Amazon’s list of top 20 new releases and reached No. 1 on its list of “Movers & Shakers in Books” just a day after its release.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org