A Wisconsin school district canceled a scheduled reading and discussion of transgender teen and reality star Jazz Jennings's book "I Am Jazz" on Tuesday (Nov. 20) after receiving complaints -- and a lawsuit threat -- from a group of parents, the Madison Cap Times reports.
The reading was initially scheduled to help the elementary school students at Mount Horeb Primary Center better understand what one of their classmates -- who identifies as a transgender -- was going through. The brightly-colored picture book, based on Jennings' life (and sharing the same name as her TLC reality show) , was designed to make the subjects of gender and identity accessible to young kids.
In the initial letter sent out to the parents, the school's principal, psychologist and counselor wrote that they were "taking several steps to support gender-variant students and their families," including a transgender girl who attends the school.
However, the Florida-based Liberty Counsel (classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group) wrote in a letter to the school that the lesson was an "inappropriate discussion of gender confusion and sexuality," and said they would explore their options to pursue a "federal lawsuit against teachers and staff in their official and individual capacities for violation of parental rights."
The district's superintendent, Deb Klein, released a statement on the school's website on Wednesday after the reading was canceled, stating that they would "not proceed as originally planned" with the lesson to respect those parent's who wanted to review the material beforehand. Yet, the district maintained that that the school was still "committed to creating a community of support" for all their 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.