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WATCH: 600 People Pack Wisconsin Library for Reading of I Am Jazz

WKOW

Close to 600 people packed a library in Mount Horeb, Wis., a town of 7,000, to read a book together and to support a local transgender first grader and her family, reported the LaCrosse Tribune.

The library event was organized on behalf of the 6-year-old student who had just transitioned from a boy to a girl; she and her family have chosen to remain anonymous. The reading was aimed at making up for last week’s cancellation of the original event planned by Mount Horeb Primary Center, the girl’s public elementary school.

A controversy erupted over that school’s intention to read I Am Jazz, the children’s book about being transgender by TLC reality star Jazz Jennings and her co-author, Jessica Herthel, who flew in from California to support the family Wednesday evening. The Human Rights Campaign paid for her flight and donated 40 copies of the book to the library..

School staff told reporters they were gong to read Jennings’s book to the girl’s classmates to help them better understand it meant to transition, as well as to show acceptance for the girl herself. A letter went home to parents and caregivers November 19, promoting the discussion of the book, in part “to support gender-variant students and their families.”

But that got the attention of Liberty Counsel, a right wing religious group that doubles as a law firm for the likes of antigay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, The group threatened legal action, and claimed to be acting on behalf of “concerned parents.” Liberty Counsel said the planned discussion violated the constitutional right of parents “to direct the upbringing of their children” and what it called their First Amendment right to ignore a person’s self-identification and refer to people only according to the gender they were assigned at birth.

Lead organizer Amy Lyle told Madison TV station WKOW she had 80 chairs ready but figured maybe 15 people would come. Instead, hundreds turned-up, nearly 600 in all, many with young children. Dozens of little ones sat in criss-cross applesauce formation around the podium.

“I knew that our Mount Horeb community was a loving, compassionate and inclusive one for all kids,” said Lyle, holding back tears. “I knew that in my heart. But you all have just shown that to be overwhelmingly true.”

Despite not knowing the girl personally or her family, many in the crowd told the Tribune that didn't matter.

“That could be any one of our kids,” said Maggie Stack of Mount Horeb, who told the paper she brought along her two daughters, ages 4 and 10.

Stack said she wasn’t concerned about confusing her children or that the information would go over their heads.

“I think kids are much more accepting than adults and are much more intuitive about these kinds of things,” she said.

Cheers and applause were heard throughout the event another reading at the high school Wednesday morning that drew about 200 

Steve Cowan, 72, sat front and center. “I came here to learn,” he told the paper. “When I was young, you never heard about any of this stuff.”

Asked his thoughts at the conclusion of the reading, Cowan said, “I truly feel we have to expressed more love in this world.”

Jennings addressed supporters in an eloquent op-ed earlier this week, thanking those who organized readings like this and “the many people who are showing their support for kids like me.”

Lyle read a statement from the family that said, in part:

“In the midst of all of the media attention that this important matter has stirred up, we just want everyone to remember that at the center of this is a brave little girl who can now be who she really is. And you have all helped to make that happen in a positive way for her and her family. For that, we are, and always will be, truly thankful.”

Watch a report on the reading from WKOW below.

 

WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

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