Should children in kindergarten be taught about transgender people?
That’s the question at the center of a controversy that erupted in June after a transgender student at Rocklin Academy Gateway, a charter school in northern California, brought the children’s book “I Am Jazz” to school to share with classmates. The book chronicles the life of a real-life transgender girl named Jazz Jennings.
In a Monday night vote after an impassioned, emotional debate, the Rocklin school board decided to keep its current literature policies in place, which allow similar types of books to be read to children during story time. However, the board passed a provision stating that teachers "will endeavor to notify parents in advance of controversial topics being discussed when they are part of the school’s curriculum or a teacher’s lesson plan so that parents can also share their views at home."
The policy adopted further states, if advance notice is not possible,
teachers will "endeavor to notify parents via email or verbally after the fact."
Some parents raised objections that they were not notified, while others at the meeting supported the school’s policies and did not object to the reading material.
Wendy Sickler, a parent of two children at the school, said her "concern is that a book that was read was outside the curriculum, and it was a sensitive topic, and the parents weren't notified."
Sickler said she’s not opposed to a transgender child being in the classroom.
“I know that our kids are going to be exposed to different lifestyles, and that to me reinforces that they should notify parents,” she said, according to the Sacramento Bee, adding that she thinks that additional changes are needed other than the issues brought before the school board.
According to the newspaper, Beryl Mayne, of Auburn, arrived before the meeting with other members of the LGBT community holding signs that said: “Trans Rights are Human Rights,” “Trans Kids Have Courage” and “Love and Let Love.”
“It’s important tonight to support transgender children. It’s not about me. It’s about transgender children,” Mayne told the Bee.
After the vote, one school board member urged the community to come together and move forward now that a decision had been made.
"Please let this end tonight," Larry Steiner said, according to the Bee. "We cannot forget Rocklin Academy is a school of choice. The hostility has to end. Let's bring back our sense of community."