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Monday, March 18, 2019

I Am Not Jazzed

I got disinvited from speaking to a local middle school’s student book club last week. The librarian who arranged the event was instructed by someone higher up to cancel when that administrator noted my status as an indie author. I get it. Who knows what kind of controversial influence I might exert on impressionable young minds.
So the irony is rich that the school board at this same school system is working to fast-track a transgender student policy that will, among other things, require instruction on transgenderism and homosexuality in the Family Life Education curriculum for grades K-12.
You read that right: This policy would mandate that five-year-olds be taught at school about transgenderism and homosexuality.
I make my indie status up-front and first-page. That this policy is currently in development is buried three links deep on the county’s public school website.
Also last week two kindergarten classes at a local elementary school received a read-aloud of the books I Am Jazz & Julian Is a Mermaid. Parents got a verbose, enthusiastic, and disingenuous letter a few days before the event, with the single word “transgender” buried in the middle of the second paragraph. No opt-out clause was offered, or any suggestion made that some parents might have concerns about the reading. The letter flew under the radar of many over-paperworked parents’ attention until the Washington Post ran a story on it, after which the elementary school reportedly got slammed with calls from furious mothers and fathers.
Why so much subterfuge about practicing gender and sexuality politics at school? Because as one staff member said at a working group on the policy, the school needs to “help parents who are unsupportive or who aren’t quite there yet… help to move the parents along.” These school administrators seem to think they know better than parents the values and beliefs with which children should be inculcated.
I may not be allowed to speak to students about my books, but I will be speaking to administrators about their role in my kids’ lives and about their policies regarding my kids’ education.
Because right now, I am not jazzed.