Some parents criticized a Kittery, Maine, elementary school after instructors decided to read a book to students about a transgender child without first asking permission from parents.
During a lesson in tolerance and acceptance led by the guidance department at Mitchell Elementary School, some of the school’s children were read a book called “I Am Jazz” by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings. The story is about a young child “with a boy’s body but a girl’s brain” who goes through struggles of identity until she’s finally able to speak with her doctor and learn that she is transgender.
According to Superintendent of Schools Allyn Hutton, it was an oversight not to notify parents about the lesson.
“We have a practice of if a topic is considered sensitive, parents should be informed,” Hutton said, according to Sea Coast Online. “The whole culture at Mitchell School is about teaching tolerance and respect … In retrospect, we understand that toleration is tolerating people of all opinions.”
Hutton added that educating children about transgender people is important because there are students in the district who identify as such. She also noted that many parents who called the school concerned about the lesson were more interested in knowing what their kids would bring up at the dinner table after school, and did not have a philosophical opposition to the topic itself.
Others have responded in a different way, noting that treating such a topic as “sensitive” is a problem in itself.
“LGBTQ issues should never be classified as a ‘sensitive subject’ — there is nothing sensitive about the way we are born,” the parent of a transgender child in the Kittery school system wrote. “Blond hair, brown hair, gay, straight or somewhere in-between, we are all people and we all need acceptance.”
Hutton noted that parents will be informed of decisions like this one in the future.