ARLINGTON, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - Last week, dozens of Arlington County students participated in the “National Day of School and Community Readings” event, which involved the reading of a picture book about a transgender girl. The book was read by a prominent LGBTQ advocate to a large group of kindergarteners.
The National Education Association and the Human Rights Campaign put on the event. They reached out to the school about reading the book to two kindergarten classes and the principal agreed.
The book is written by Jazz Jennings who was first on a groundbreaking show called “I Am Jazz” on TLC where she opened up about being a transgender teen. She became a prominent young activist and then went on to co-write a children's book based on her experiences called “I Am Jazz” as well.
One line in the book reads, “I have a girl brain but a boy body. This is called transgender. I was born this way.”
Pictures from Arlington County Public Schools show Sarah McBride, another advocate who came out as transgender, reading the book “I Am Jazz” to a group of about 50 kindergarteners at Ashlawn Elementary School.
The school district says parents were notified by a letter ahead of time and were allowed to opt out of they chose. However, to their knowledge, no one did.
The Human Rights Campaign says there are hundreds of thousands of children who identify as transgender and they chose this book to teach kids to be respectful to all their classmates.
“All children should feel included, they should feel safe and dignified in their schools and communities, and what we find is LGBTQ children are especially vulnerable to violence and discrimination, especially in school and communities. So we want classmates, teachers, parents to make sure they are good allies, to make sure they include transgender and gender-expansive children in school curriculum and school activities,” said Charlotte Clymer, press secretary, rapid response for the Human Rights Campaign.
Parents FOX 5 spoke to Monday seemed to welcome the idea.
“We see children very young who know they don’t identify with the gender they are assigned. Wouldn’t it be better if their classmates understood and had empathy towards them versus treating them different or with disdain or violence?” said Aimee Richardson.
The school district says the book “I Am Jazz” has been vetted through their counselor and deemed appropriate for students as young as kindergarten. It currently sits in most libraries and teachers have read it aloud to students and discussed it in the past in smaller groups.