Jazz Jennings has responded to a Wisconsin school’s cancellation of a reading of her book I Am Jazz via a column in Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel, thanking the school’s principal for her intentions and expressing sadness that a small group of parents caused the cancellation.
The children’s book coauthored by the transgender teen was to be read to students November 23 at Mount Horeb Primary Center, located in the town of Mount Horeb, near Madison. The school had sent a letter to parents November 19, letting them know about the reading and saying it was a way to foster respect and support for young transgender people.
Some parents, however, enlisted the support of Liberty Counsel, a right-wing legal group, which threatened a lawsuit if the reading was not canceled. It claimed that the reading would result in “confusing many children,” “undermining modesty,” and “promoting non-factual, radical, and controversial assumptions about ‘gender.’” Liberty Counsel, which is also the group defending antigay Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Jennings began her column, which was published Tuesday, on a positive note, saying she was happy that principal Rachael Johnson chose her book and envisioned the reading as a note of support for a transgender girl at the school. “My parents and I want to personally thank Johnson for being a such strong leader and ally,” she said, adding that she was glad to hear the girl has supportive parents.
She continued, “I was sad to find out that a small group of parents forced Johnson to cancel the reading.” She thanked those who organized readings elsewhere and “the many people who are showing their support for kids like me.”
“My book can help, I think, but I know from my own experience that it is adults like my parents and Johnson who can make sure that transgender children are treated fairly at school and given the same opportunities to succeed in life,” Jennings went on.
“I have been sharing my story for almost a decade because I don't want anyone else to feel alone or scared,” she concluded. “I hope that ‘I Am Jazz’ continues to open people’s hearts by helping them to understand what it is like to be transgender. I am proud to see so many people support transgender students in Wisconsin, and I hope that it will also help the Mt. Horeb student love and enjoy life as her authentic self.”