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Virginia school under fire after activist reads trans book to kindergarten kids

Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

March 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A Virginia elementary school that allowed a transgender activist to read kindergarten students a book about transgenderism last month did not give parents the option to opt out of having their children present, according to reports, despite claims to the contrary.

Transgender activist Sarah McBride of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) read "I Am Jazz," a book about a boy who identifies as a transgender girl, to kindergarteners at Ashlawn Elementary School in Arlington County in late February for Read Across America Day.

The event, sponsored by National Education Association (NEA), is intended to encourage children to read. However, this year for the first time, the NEA collaborated with LGBT activist group HRC for the day, The Blaze reported.

McBride, national press secretary for the HRC, the largest homosexual lobby organization in the United States, told the Ashlawn kindergarten students that boys can have "a girl brain but a boy body," and likewise for girls who think they are boys.

After parents condemned McBride's visit, the report said, Arlington County Public Schools said the parents had been "notified by a letter ahead of time and were allowed to opt out if they chose."

Various media outlets reported that parents were informed in advance of the transgender-affirming visit and could pass on having their children there. But the letter, which was released only in English in spite of the school having a significant non-English-speaking population, does not mention opting out, a report from the Federalist said.

A copy of the letter obtained by the Family Foundation of Virginia via the Virginia Freedom of Information Act shows there was no offer for parents to pull their kids out of the transgender reading session.

And while the letter says that a book written by a transgender individual would be read to the class, it does not explicitly state that kindergarteners would be told it’s possible have a “girl brain but a boy body” or a boy brain and a girl body, as the book declares.

Neither does the letter say that a trans activist male who identifies as a woman would be reading the book to their children, but says only that “there will be discussion around the big ideas of the books which are we want to accept and welcome all people.”

The northern Virginia school community of Ashlawn is diverse enough to require an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program, but the school gave only an English-language letter to parents. 

The NEA and HRC had contacted Ashlawn about reading the book to two kindergarten classes, according to Fox 5 DC, and got the principal’s consent to read to a group of about 50 kindergartners.

The book is co-written by Jazz Jennings, a male media personality and transgender activist who identifies as female. It has been criticized by at least one endocrinologist for factual inaccuracies and concerning omissions.

HRC claimed there are hundreds of thousands of children who identify as transgender and it chose this book to teach kids to be respectful to all classmates.

Experts have said it is dangerous to reinforce gender dysphoria, or confusion, in children, as it could put their lives at risk given the high suicide rate among those identifying as transgender, and an overwhelming percentage of children will grow out of this confusion, provided it is not encouraged.

After reading “I am Jazz,” McBride told the kindergarten students that he was like the boy in the book. 

"I'm like Jazz," McBride reportedly said. "When I was born, the doctors and my parents, they all thought that I was a boy."

"Why?" one kindergarten girl asked.

"Because society, people around them told them that was the case," McBride said. "It took me getting a little bit older to be able to say that in my heart and in my mind I knew I was really a girl."

Arlington County Public Schools do not have a specific curriculum for teaching sexual orientation or gender identity, one of the Ashlawn kindergarten teachers, Jaim Foster, said. 

Foster, who is gay, told The Washington Post after McBride’s visit that he talks to his students about his experiences with his partner and that his classroom has books such as "Heather Has Two Mommies" and "My Princess Boy."

The school district said “I Am Jazz” has been vetted through its counselor and deemed appropriate for students as young as kindergarten, the Fox 5 report said, and at present it is in most school libraries, with teachers reading it aloud to students for discussion in smaller groups.

To respectfully express concern:

Ashlawn Elementary School
(703) 228-5270

Arlington Public Schools
703-228-6000

Arlington Public Schools Board
703-228-6015
[email protected]

National Education Association
1201 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036-3290
202-833-4000
202-822-7974 (Fax)

Human Rights Campaign
1640 Rhode Island Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20036-3278
202-628-4160
800-777-4723
202-347-5323 (Fax)

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