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Transgender Kid's Book Raises Questions For Parents

  

The Rocklin Academy Gateway campus says one of its kindergartners last year transitioned from male to female, which included the child wearing dresses and school staff addressing her by a new name. At the end of the year, she brought to class a children's book called "I am Jazz" about a transgender child and asked the teacher to read it.

Elizabeth Ashford is a spokeswoman for the school and says the teacher agreed.

"The school's literature policy does say that children can bring in age-appropriate books and "I Am Jazz" is listed by the California Department of Education as recommended reading for K-through-2nd Grade on transgender issues. So, while the school does not have an LGBT curriculum, the book very much fell under the school's literature policy," Ashford said.

Some parents called the school, upset the teacher and the school would allow what they call a "controversial topic" to be discussed without telling parents first.

Chelsea McQuistan says if her kindergartner had been in that class, she would have "kept him home that day."

"I personally would want to protect that innocence and let him kind of figure out and grow and mature until he was able to process what that means. We also have a third grader. We have talked to him about transgender," McQuistan said.

McQuistan says she and other parents are upset a topic they see as being in the sexual education realm was discussed with students at such a young age, with no notice to parents. She says the parents are not prejudiced against the LGBT community.

In her hand was a copy of a proposal to the school by the Capitol Resource Institute, which calls itself a "family values" organization.

Karen England is the Executive Director. She says parents should have been given the option to remove their children before the book was read.

"I do believe a boy is born a boy and a girl is born a girl and I do believe that we need to honor that and that is not best to be teaching our school children that boys can become girls and girls become boys," England said.

According to school spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford, the teacher followed the law by reading the book.

"In this case, excluding a book on this topic because it had to do with something that might be considered by some controversial actually would have fostered a discriminatory environment," Ashford said.

Capitol Resource Institute has a history of opposing LGBT groups on issues ranging from gay marriage to transgender locker room access to sleeping quarters for residents of long-term care facilities to homosexuality as a choice.

"Science has not proven otherwise. There has not been discovered any sort of scientific fact that there is any sort of being born that way," said England.

England claims Rocklin Academy Gateway students have been sent to the principal's office for continuing to use the child's birth name and not her chosen name.

Ashford says one student was counseled by the prinicipal after the student repeatedly used the transgender child's birth name, but no disciplinary action was taken.

It is proposing the school provide notifications whenever anything related to sexual education is presented or when their could be a "physical privacy concern" related to a transgender student's use of a locker room, rest room, or other facility.

The school has proposed re-affirming its existing policies and improving its communications with parents when a sensitive subject is broached. 

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob reports on all things northern California and Nevada. His coverage of police technology, local athletes, and the environment has won a regional Associated Press and several Edward R. Murrow awards.   Read Full Bio 

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