Hundreds Turn Out To Support Trans Child In Small Wisconsin Town

Photo: Matt Baron/BEI/REX Shutterstock.
Update: On December 2, a crowd of around 600 people attended a reading of I Am Jazz at the Mount Horeb Public Library in Wisconsin. Co-author Jessica Herthel read from the book she wrote with Jazz Jennings, a transgender teen. Amy Lyle, who organized the reading, initially expected a turnout closer to 15 people, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. A reading was also held that morning at the local high school, which was attended by about 200 people.

This story was originally published on November 29.
The Mount Horeb Area School District in Wisconsin has bowed to pressure from the Liberty Counsel, a conservative group, and canceled a reading and discussion of a book about a teen's gender transition, The Capital Times reports. The Florida-based Liberty Counsel had threatened to sue the district, claiming the event would violate "parental rights."

The reading was scheduled to take place at a local elementary school on November 19. The school has a student who identifies as a trans girl, and the reading of I Am Jazz, co-written by trans teen Jazz Jennings, was intended to educate fellow students and discourage bullying.

"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," Mount Horeb Primary Center wrote in a letter sent to parents.

"It is our primary responsibility to provide a safe and nurturing environment for all of our students," the note added. "Please let us know if you have concerns about your child participating in this discussion; we respect the beliefs and convictions of all families."

The Liberty Counsel got involved following complaints from concerned parents. The school acknowledged that they could have given parents more notice and time to review the controversial material and said the Board of Education would make a decision about the reading.

"As we seek to address the specific needs of the individual student, the District will also be mindful of the needs of other District students and families, and will strive to keep all of the families whose children may be affected apprised of future actions by the District," the school said in a statement. "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."

Some LGBT activists have criticized the school for canceling, citing the importance of respecting fellow students.

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