Hate-Group Censors Reading of "I Am Jazz"
There are numerous reasons to censor art and literature. Everyone has their own unique opinions and therefore their own ideas as to what should and should not be censored. A current popular reason for censorship by right-wing activists is to “protect the children.” And they seem to have a long list of ideas and concepts that art and literature may trigger that are too dangerous for the children’s little ears. According to the hate group Liberty Counsel, its too dangerous for little children to be exposed to a work that gives them the opportunity to learn about the experiences a transgender classmate may have. It’s for the children. The right-wing group has pressured a Wisconsin school district to cancel their plans to have their students read the book “I Am Jazz” based on the life of transgender teen activist and reality TV star Jazz Jennings during her transition. For the children. Before canceling their plans the Mount Horeb Primary Center principal sent a letter to parents communicating the school’s plan to read the book in order to create an environment of support for a transgender student. “I Am Jazz” is the story of transgender girl that is based off of co- author Jazz Jennings life experiences. The letter stated: “We have been working with the family of a student on your child’s floor who identifies as a girl, but has male anatomy. We refer to this as having a girl brain and a boy body. Together we have come up with a plan to support this student in living as her authentic self.” The letter then welcomed parents to address any concerns they may have had with the school. Some parents did have concerns and they contacted Liberty Counsel to take care of it. Although the school said it was okay for students to skip the lesson if their parents so desired, Liberty Counsel threatened to file a lawsuit preventing any schoolchildren from reading the book if Mount Horeb didn’t cancel the lesson. The hate-group believed the event was a conspiracy to confuse the children and promote “radical and controversial assumptions about gender” under pretense of “’antibullying,’ ‘diversity,’ and building a ‘safe and nurturing environment.’” So the school cancelled the event to stay out of trouble. Liberty Counsel is well known for promoting anti-LGBTQ interests. Most famously, they supported the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to exclude gay scouts and scout leaders from their organization. Right-wing anti-LGBTQ groups like Liberty Counsel aim to protect children but have the adverse effect. Teaching children that homosexuality is comparable to substance addiction, that queer people are predatory and are a threat to public health is so harmful. The most harm is done to young queer people who are taught by these groups that they are sinners and that society’s homophobia is justified. In reality, the Liberty Counsel is just scared. They are scared of a future that is open-minded, supportive, and inclusive and one that will leave their outdated views on gender and sexuality behind. There is no harm done in teaching students about the LGBTQ community at a young age. Young children are surprisingly open-minded and sincere. The youth need to know what is happening in the world and be educated to create a better and more tolerant future. Education is the best way to promote progress. The principal of Mount Horeb knew the students would benefit from reading the book: “We are continually amazed by the compassion and acceptance our students show each other when they understand their differences.” Censoring “I Am Jazz” not only stole the students’ opportunity to expand their horizons, but the opportunity to have a more understanding and compassionate learning environment has been stolen from the transgender student. Instead of learning that she should be celebrated for who she is, the student may have learned to be ashamed of her gender. That is the greatest crime. We should not let fear and hate censor education. We should not let the outdated bigots determine our society’s future values.