The Liberty Counsel lawyers bully six-year-old Wisconsin student

 photo Jazz_zpskynuyeyk.jpgMount Horeb Primary Center in Dane County, Wisconsin has a transgender student who has just come out. In an attempt to be inclusive and supportive of the trans girl a letter to parents was written and signed by the principal, the school psychologist and a counselor, informing the parents about the plan to have the students read and discuss I am Jazz, a book co-written by Florida transgender teen Jazz Jennings.

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.

It is our primary responsibility to provide a safe and nurturing environment for all of our students. 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 letter

For some of the parents withdrawing their children from the discussion was not sufficient. They felt the need to contact the SPLC-identified hate group, The Liberty Council, which threatened legal action if the book was read to students, claiming that such action would violate parental rights.

The Liberty Counsel letter includes the following:

Principal Rachel Johnson, School Psychologist Nicole Tepe, and School Counselor Emily McKee plan to subject Primary School students to a discussion of gender confusion and sexuality, under the guise of “anti- bullying,” “diversity,” and building a “safe and nurturing environment,” by means of reading to First Graders this coming Monday, November 23, “transgender” activist book “I AM JAZZ”. The letter was sent with one business days’ notice and appears designed to catch parents off-guard, to prevent them from opting their children out of this reading and subsequent discussion.

Calling for the cancelation of the reading was not sufficient for these bullies, however. Someone apparently felt "Where better to bully transgender kids?"

First, as you may know, “Jazz” Jennings is a male child “transgender” activist, who has been permitted to undergo harmful gender reassignment drug therapy and hormone blockers, resulting in permanent physical changes to his body. The book is a false and misleading book, and the subsequent teaching and discussion will result in the following harms:

1. Promoting non-factual, radical, and controversial assumptions about "gender"--which is neither the right nor business of government schools to do;
2. substituting the beliefs of the principal, school psychologist, and school
counselor for those of parents;
3. necessitating many parents teaching their children about a psychological and
moral disorder about which they believe their children are too young to learn;
4. making other children uncomfortable;
5. confusingmanychildren;
6. disturbing children who will now falsely believe that one can choose one's
gender; and
7. underminingmodestyandprivacyrightsofstudents;
8. undermining the religious free exercise and free speech rights of teachers
and students in relation to incorrect pronouns.

LC goes on to quote known anti-transgender bigot Dr. Paul McHugh, who favors reparative therapy for transgender children.

At a minimum, the District’s “plan to support this student in living as ‘her’ authentic self” subjects students to propaganda having no basis in science or reality, to present gender confusion as “normal.” For the record, a mandatory requirement that other students call a boy “her” and “she” infringes upon the other students’ rights to tell the truth, in accordance with their religious convictions, and reality.

--LC Letter

The school caved.

Theresa Daane, director of student services for the Mount Horeb Area School District, provided an initial statement on Tuesday after the reading was cancelled, acknowledging "the need for parents to be given the opportunity to consider and discuss information we provide to their children. Accordingly, we intend to balance these needs and allow parents additional time to review the materials we intend to present to students."

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. 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.

--district press release

We should welcome students as they are, not how we want them to be or how we'd like to them be. We know that there are really young transgender youth in our schools and we have a responsibility to make sure schools are welcoming and supportive of them. Reading an age-appropriate book to help recognize the differences we bring with us to school is very important, particularly for our transgender students to see themselves reflected in the curriculum.

Parents and their children don't have to believe differently or agree with what is being taught. You can still have your personal beliefs but in the schools, we expect people to be respectful of each other and this is one of the ways we have that conversation.

--Brian Juchems, Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools

The mother of the Mount Horeb student, whom the State Journal is not naming to protect her family’s privacy, said that teaching inclusion to her daughter’s classmates is essential to her successful gender transition.

My daughter just wants to be accepted, included, and not bullied. If we can teach them to respect people’s differences at a young age, it’s important.

--mother of transgender girl

The mother says she is not surprised at the cancelation of the reading, but that the school had been "fantastic."

The suddenness of her child's need to transition caused the immediacy of the school's action.

[The mother] said that she and her husband, as well as her daughter’s teachers, had noticed the girl displaying clear signs of anxiety and depression — which is common for transgender children between the ages of 5 and 7 — and knew it was time to do something.

The girl’s social transition has been a year in the making for the Mount Horeb family. Starting when she was 3 years old, and maybe even before that, the child’s mother noticed behaviors that suggested to her that the child may be transgender.

The girl’s social transition has been a year in the making for the Mount Horeb family. Starting when she was 3 years old, and maybe even before that, the child’s mother noticed behaviors that suggested to her that the child may be transgender.

Every once in a while a kid would ask why she likes girl stuff. Even since the transition, the kids in the class were like, ‘That’s OK, you’re (name) now.’ The kids have totally accepted this – it’s just the adults.

--the mother

In response to the cancellation, two readings of the book have been scheduled outside of school time. Mount Horeb High School's Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA) will read the book at the school's flagpole at 7:35am on Wednesday.

High School social studies teacher Beth Maglio, who is supporting the Wednesday morning reading, said students are staging the reading to “show our support and solidarity with the transgender community, staff and students."

And parent Amy Lyle will host a reading at the Mount Horeb Library from 6:30-8 Wednseday evening.

We were concerned about how the family would be feeling and we felt a need to communicate to them that there is support in our community. We want all LGBT youth to feel supported and to feel accepted, and to know that Mount Horeb is an accepting place for all.

I don’t know if there is a more important lesson to be taught in our schools (than inclusion).

We firmly believe that education and information creates informed and compassionate children who turn into compassionate and respectful adults. It’s our obligation to provide the information. Families can have their own discussions outside the school, but the information should be provided.

--Amy Lyle

We were in awe of the support that people have come out and given us not even knowing who we are. We are thankful for this.

We want people to remember that at the center of all of this is a child and her family.

This child is a very brave, strong, and amazing child that will be dealing with a rough road ahead. We’ve spent a year discussing (her transition) and figuring out if it’s what we needed to do. But, for our child to be happy, this is what we needed to do. Our 6-year-old can finally be who she really is.

--mother of the transgender girl

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