Mitchell Primary School officials have drawn criticism from some parents after a children’s book about a transgender child was read to most of the school's students.
During a lesson on tolerance and acceptance implemented by the guidance department, the book “I Am Jazz” by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings was read to 20 of 22 classes in the Grades K-3 school. The story is about a young child “with a boy’s body but a girl’s brain,” who goes through a childhood struggle of identifying with her true self until she and her family speak with a new doctor and come to understand the child is transgender.
Superintendent of Schools Allyn Hutton said it was an oversight that parents weren't notified in advance of the lesson.
“We have a practice of if a topic is considered sensitive, parents should be informed,” Hutton said Friday morning. “In this situation, that didn’t happen. The whole culture at Mitchell School is about teaching tolerance and respect. The people presenting the lesson thought (the book) was one more piece of teaching that lesson. In retrospect, we understand that toleration is tolerating people of all opinions.”
Hutton said educating students about transgender people is important because there are students within the district who identify as such.
A parent of a transgender child in the Kittery school system provided a statement about the school’s lesson. The parent requested anonymity to protect the identity of his child.
“We fully support the staff of Horace Mitchell School,” the statement began. “People in this country, parents in this country are outraged by bullying, teen suicide rates and the depression in children. The staff of Mitchell School is doing something about this. By teaching acceptance and love they are shedding a light on (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning) issues. Reading ‘I Am Jazz’ by Jazz Jennings to students is a way of showing them that gender can be more complicated than just boys and girls. Some people are born somewhere in between. LGBTQ issues should never be classified as a ‘sensitive subject’ — there is nothing sensitive about the way we are born. Blonde hair, brown hair, gay, straight or somewhere in-between, we are all people and we all need acceptance.”
“The Kittery School District embraces diversity and is committed to creating an atmosphere of respect and tolerance for all people, regardless of their race, religion, political belief system or sexual orientation,” the letter read. “… With this in mind, guidance staff of the Horace Mitchell School recently read aloud the book, ‘I Am Jazz,’ a book about a transgender student.
“In general, it is the practice of the (KSD) to inform parents when sensitive material is being introduced in a classroom,” it continued. “Unfortunately, this did not occur in this situation and as a result some parents were uncomfortable with the material and/or felt unprepared for follow up discussions with their children.”
I'll believe the tolerance and diversity police when they start reading books about Catholic children and their beliefs and how they should be respected and tolerated.
I wonder when that'll happen?