Aug Sept 2016
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The Advocate

Hate Group Forces School to Cancel I Am Jazz Book Reading

Jazz Jennings

An elementary school in Wisconsin has cancelled plans to read a book about a transgender child.

Mount Horeb Primary Center had scheduled a reading of I Am Jazz, a children't book written by trans teen and reality television star Jazz Jennings.

On November 19 the school sent a letter to parents informing them of the upcoming reading, which was set to take place Monday. The Capital Times reports that a student at the center is transgender, and the reading was part of an effort to create a more inclusive environment.

"We believe all students deserve respect and support regardless of their gender identity and expression, and the best way to foster that respect and support is through educating students about the issue of being transgender," read the letter, which was signed by the school's principal, a counselor, and a psychologist.

However, the reading was called off after "concerned parents" reached out to the Liberty Counsel, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as an hate group and an anti-LGBT group.

The Liberty Counsel sent a letter to the school on November 20, threatening a federal lawsuit if the event was not cancelled. The letter alleges that school administrators were seeking "to subject Primary School students to a discussion of gender confusion and sexuality, under the guise of 'antibullying,' 'diversity,' and building a 'safe and nurturing environment.'"

The letter goes on to misgender Jennings, referring to her as "a male child 'transgender' activist, who has been permitted to undergo harmful gender reassignment drug therapy and hormone blockers, resulting in permanent physical changes to his body."

Her book, which explains to children what it means to be transgender, is characterized in the letter as "false and misleading." The Liberty Counsel maintains that its reading would result in "confusing many children," "undermining modesty," and "promoting non-factual, radical, and controversial assumptions about 'gender,'" among other so-called harms.

Moreover, the group argues that "the letter [announcing the reading] was sent with one business days’ notice and appears designed to catch parents off-guard, to prevent them from opting their children out of this reading and subsequent discussion."

As a result, the reading was cancelled. The district released a statement Wednesday, saying the Board of Education needs time "to review the needs of all involved, and address a situation for which the District has no current policy."

"Please know that our continuing goal is to protect all students from any bullying, harassing or intimidating behavior at school so that all of our students may learn together in a safe and caring environment," it added.

This is not the first time Jazz Jennings has been the target of right-wing groups. Earlier this year, One Million Moms attacked her TLC show, also titled I Am Jazz,  which the group said “is attempting to normalize the transgender lifestyle and make it appear OK while using a young cast member to lure a young audience."

One Million Moms urged its supporters to contact Revlon, the maker of Mitchum deodorant, which advertises on the show, and demand that the company end its sponsorship.

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