Public school officials in Kittery Point, Maine apologized to parents of students in kindergarten through third grade for failing to notify them before their children were exposed to a book about a transgendered child during a lesson on tolerance and acceptance.
The Daily Mail reports that superintendent Allyn Hutton said last week that while she supports reading the book to the children, she admitted parents should have been notified first.
“We have a practice of if a topic is considered sensitive, parents should be informed,” Hutton said. “In this situation, that didn’t happen.”
“The whole culture at Mitchell School is about teaching tolerance and respect,” she continued. “The people presenting the lesson thought [I Am Jazz] was one more piece of teaching that lesson. In retrospect, we understand that toleration is tolerating people of all opinions.”
Seacoastonline.com reported that Hutton added educating students about transgender people is necessary because her school district has students who identify as such.
According to reports of the incident, Dana Richerich, school counselor at Horace Mitchell Primary School, read the book I Am Jazz to K-3 students. The book, co-authored by Jazz Jennings, 14, and Jessica Herthel, is the story of Jazz, who says she knew she had “a girl’s brain in a boy’s body” when she was two years old. According to the book, Jazz’s parents took her to a doctor who said Jazz is transgender and was born that way.
A parent of a first-grader at the school called school principal David Foster when her son came home asking questions about sexual identity. When the mother received the following email as a response, she contacted conservative host Sean Hannity, who printed the email on his website:
Last week our guidance counselor, Dana Richerich, read a book to the class called ‘I am Jazz’. It is a children’s book about a girl that is transgendered. (Born a boy, but identifies as a girl). The book/discussion went really well. (I stayed for the lesson so I would know what the class was covered/discussed). Following is a link provided by Dana for parents.
The individual who sent the email provided a link to a blog post by Richerich titled “Cultivating respect – creating a safe school climate for all,” in which the counselor writes:
Some may think primary school students are too young to worry about addressing issues surrounding gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) students. Not so, experts say. It’s never too early to begin teaching children about respecting differences. When our students and their parents have questions related to LGBTQ issues, our goal is to foster healthy dialog, critical thinking and inclusiveness. With that in mind, our conversations include all students and perspectives to create a safe and supportive school climate.
Like many New England states, Maine has taken a strong stance in favor of LGBTQ rights. Since 2005, state law prohibits discrimination based on gender identity. Last year Maine’s High Court ruled that denying a transgender girl the use of the girls’ restroom at her school violated her rights under the state’s Human Rights Act. (Doe v Clenchy) This case highlighted the need for ALL of us — staff, students, parents, community — to learn more. Through education we work towards the goal of greater understanding, acceptance and safety for all of our students.
“I feel like my thoughts, feelings and beliefs were completely ignored,” said the mother. “My right as a parent to allow or not allow this discussion with my child was taken from me. It is very upsetting to me that I didn’t have an option at all.”
The parent added her son asked her if he was “transgender” or not and also whether or not he could be “a girl in love with a girl.” She said up until the topic was raised at school, her child had never said anything like that before.
“I was taken aback by it,” the mother said. “Being seven, once you put something in their mind they don’t forget so easily.”
A parent who reported he has a transgender child in the Kittery school district, however, stated, “People in this country, parents in this country are outraged by bullying, teen suicide rates and the depression in children. The staff of Mitchell School is doing something about this.”
“Reading ‘I Am Jazz’ by Jazz Jennings to students is a way of showing them that gender can be more complicated than just boys and girls,” the parent’s statement says. “Some people are born somewhere in between. LGBTQ issues should never be classified as a ‘sensitive subject’ — there is nothing sensitive about the way we are born. Blonde hair, brown hair, gay, straight or somewhere in-between, we are all people and we all need acceptance.”
The book is reviewed at Amazon.com by transgender Laverne Cox who plays “Sophia” in Orange Is the New Black, a series about experiences in a women’s prison.
“This is an essential tool for parents and teachers to share with children whether those kids identify as trans or not,” wrote Cox. “I wish I had had a book like this when I was a kid struggling with gender identity questions. I found it deeply moving in its simplicity and honesty.”
However, a letter published in the May issue of Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), criticized the “normalization” of gender identity disorders by pediatricians and schools, and was submitted in response to a December article in the AAP journal titled, “Psychological and Medical Care of Gender Nonconforming Youth.”
The letter, titled “Puberty Is Not a Disorder,” was submitted by Den Trumbull, MD, FCP and Michelle Cretella, MD, FCP, president and vice president of the American College of Pediatricians, respectively, and Miriam Grossman, MD, psychiatric consultant to the College. In their letter, sent to Breitbart News, the doctors objected to the “normalization” of childhood gender identity disorder (GID) that they assert has been promoted by the AAP in its article by Stanley Vance Jr., MD, Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D., and Stephen Rosenthal, MD.
“The recommendations of the authors to reinforce the delusions of gender identity–confused children, and to prescribe puberty-blocking hormones as though puberty were a disorder, are outrageous,” the American College of Pediatricians doctors write. “This approach violates the oath physicians take to ‘do no harm.’”
Although some affected children and their parents may report being happier when health professionals, families, friends, and schools affirm their false beliefs, “happiness” is not always consistent with good health. It can also be short-lived.
A recent 30-year study in transgendered adults in Sweden, unquestionably a transgender-affirming culture, should give the AAP and American Psychiatric Association (APA) pause: it showed that individuals who underwent sex reassignment surgery suffered significantly greater morbidity and mortality when compared with matched controls. Shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population. The authors concluded, “Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism . . . [emphasis added].”2
There is no adequate body of research on the long-term use of puberty blockers in early adolescence followed by lifelong administration of exogenous testosterone to biological girls or of exogenous estrogen to biological boys. However, there is significant evidence indicating stunted growth and infertility from puberty-blocking hormones, and possible malignancies from chronic use of synthetic hormones.3 Yet, this is what the AAP and APA recommend.
We submit that children who dread the development of secondary sex characteristics are emotionally troubled; puberty is not a disease. In fact, puberty brings relief for the vast majority of children receiving therapy for GID, because hormone surges propel the development of their brains as well as their bodies and they come to identify with their biological sex.4,5
Science and ethics trump the current recommendations of the AAP and APA, which amount to conducting an ideology-driven social experiment on vulnerable children and their families. All physicians must work for the reinstatement of the diagnosis and sound treatment of childhood GID.
According to the Daily Mail, Jennings, who is from Florida, is the “unofficial face of America’s transgender youth.” She is reportedly scheduled to star in her own reality television series on TLC, and was named last year as one of TIME’s 25 most influential teens.