On Wednesday, December 2nd, nearly 200 Mount Horeb students and community members gathered around the high school flagpole to read the children’s book, “I Am Jazz.” The event was organized by the high school’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA). “I Am Jazz” is about a young transgender girl and was intended to be read at the local primary school to support a 6-year-old girl who had recently transitioned at school. The initial reading was cancelled, however, when the district received a letter from the conservative Liberty Counsel, warning them that reading the book to youth could result in a lawsuit.
Mount Horeb students and community members rejected the attempt by Liberty Counsel to bully their community and quickly organized two successful community event. The first event was the flagpole reading, with a community-wide reading happening later that day at the Mount Horeb public library. Nearly 600 people attended the evening event, including the book’s co-author, Jessica Herthel.
Both events rose the bar for how communities can respond to hate and fear mongering with love and compassion. GSAFE applauds both the student and adult leaders who organized both events.
GSAFE reached out to Claire, a SAGA member and one of the flagpole reading organizers, to see if she would let us share her comments from Wednesday morning. We were happy that she said yes! Here is what Claire said that morning:
“Thank you for joining us today. I cannot speak for the family of the student, but the amount of support and kindness this community has shown since the district received such a hateful message has been beyond touching. Now, I invite you to join us in a moment of silence for the members of the transgender community who did not receive this level of support, and who are no longer with us today.
“Thank you. Today, we stand together in solidarity, unity, and love. We stand together to show that the hatred and cruelty in the world is powerless against the love and support of a community that truly cares about each other. We stand to declare to anyone who may be listening that we will always be here to support the transgender community. This is not a day of religion. This is not a day of politics. This is not a day of opinions or beliefs or values. This is a day for reminding a little girl that she will never be alone, and she will never have to face the world without the full support of a community behind her. To all trans youth, and all students, we say: we love you, we support you, you are safe with us, and we will continue educating to make the world a better place for you. Education starts with us. It is our job as a community to educate those who don’t understand, and try to love those who refuse to. The best way to understand is to learn from experiences, and we are lucky enough to have people like Jazz Jennings in the world who are willing to share their experiences with us. Her children’s book is part of the reason we’re standing here today, and we’re here to pass on her efforts to educate and inform.”