After the backlash over a transgender-inclusive children’s book, a Wisconsin school has countered the criticism by unanimously passing nondiscrimination protections for its transgender students this week.
The Mount Horeb Area School District announced a few weeks ago that the Primary School now had a transgender student and classes would be reading I Am Jazz, a children’s book based on the real life experiences of teenage trans superstar Jazz Jennings. After the Liberty Counsel — infamous for its representation of embattled Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis — threatened a lawsuit on behalf of a few upset parents, the district canceled the reading.
Jennings responded by applauding the school administrators and others in the community for trying to do right by the transgender student. “Growing up transgender can be a challenging experience,” she wrote, “and we need our parents, schools, and friends to stand by us so we can breathe easily. We want the same thing — to be who we are and feel safe and supported in this world.”
Last week, the community countered by hosting a public reading of I Am Jazz. Nearly 600 people crammed into the Mount Horeb public library , including a 72-year-old who “came here to learn” and a 4-year-old eager to be friends with the transgender student, who she did not even know. I Am Jazz co-author Jessica Herthel even flew in to perform the reading. The event sent a clear message as to where the community stood.
— Wis. State Journal (@WiStateJournal) December 3, 2015
This week, the Mount Horeb School Board responded in turn, spending very little time debating new measures to accommodate transgender students throughout the district before passing them unanimously. The measures include access to restrooms and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity. Though a few parents objected during the meeting’s open comment period, their concerns did not resonate with the board. Board member Peter Strube concluded the brief discussion by declaring, “Let the word go forth here and now that this board will stand united and we will not be intimidated and we will teach tolerance and will be accepting to everyone.”
Though the family is protecting the identity of the transgender 6-year-old, her mother thanked the board for their swift action, noting that “this has been the most difficult thing my family has ever had to deal with.” She is “glad” to be part of the school district and hopes the measures help many other trans children too.