The Liberty Counsel, a Christian law firm that defended Kentucky clerk Kim Davis' First Amendment rights when she blocked gay marriages, recently threatened to file a lawsuit if the Mount Horeb Primary Center in Madison, Wisconsin, allowed the reading of a book about a transgender teen.
The students were supposed to hear a reading from “I Am Jazz,” a children's book written by Jazz Jennings, a transgender teen and reality TV star, on Nov. 23. The school notified parents beforehand on Nov. 19, notes The Capital Times.
"It is our primary responsibility to provide a safe and nurturing environment for all of our students," the letter stated. "Please let us know if you have concerns about your child participating in this discussion; we respect the beliefs and convictions of all families."
Some unidentified "concerned parents" notified the Liberty Counsel, which in turn threatened to sue the school district over the book reading, which the law firm called "a violation of parental rights."
The Liberty Counsel claimed that the school's letter to parents went out one business day before the reading, which "appears [to be] designed to catch parents off-guard."
After the reading was canceled on Nov. 23, Theresa Daane, director of student services for the Mount Horeb Area School District, announced on Nov. 24 that there was "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."
The school district issued a press release on Nov. 25 saying that it had "chosen not to proceed as originally planned and allow the Board of Education the opportunity to review the needs of all involved, and address a situation for which the District has no current policy."
Brian Juchems, senior director of education and policy at the Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools, told The Capital Times: "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," Juchems added. "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."
In October, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) designated the Liberty Counsel a "hate group" because of its anti-LGBT positions and rhetoric, noted The Associated Press.
"A group that regularly portrays gay people as perverse, diseased pedophiles putting Western civilization at risk are way, way over the line," Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the SPLC, told the wire service.
Potok added that the Liberty Counsel has linked homosexuality to higher rates of promiscuity and incest, which were not supported by science.