Maine grade school apologizes for transgender confusion

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez |

(Jazz a Corner for Transgender Kids Facebook page)Jazz Jennings in April 2014 with co-author Jessica Hershel holding a mock-up of their book "I am Jazz." The children's book was the topic of controversy in a Maine elementary school when a guidance counselor used the picture book as a reference to teach on the topic of tolerance.

KITTERY POINT, Maine (Christian Examiner) – The parents of students at Horace Mitchell Primary School where who were forced to listen to a lesson on transgender identity, received apologies from school district officials for failing to send notification ahead time.

As part of a teaching on tolerance and acceptance, school counselor Dana Richerich, read the book "I Am Jazz" to most of the school's kindergarten through third grade classes.

The illustrated picture-book tells the story of a child 'with a boy's body and a girl's brain" who doctors tell family members is transgender. The story is based on the real-life account of now 14-year-old Jazz Jennings who claims to have self-identified as a girl at age two. According to MSNBC TV, Jennings is a teenage transgender advocate who is set to star in her own reality show on TLC.

After one first grade student went home asking questions about his own sexual identity, a concerned parent reached out to the principle for answers. A cold response from the school's administration led the unnamed mother to contact conservative news reporter Sean Hannity of Fox News.

According to Hannity's website, the mother said after the book was read, her son "asked his mother if he was 'transgender' or not, and also whether or not he could be 'a girl in love with a girl.' Prior to being read the book, the boy never posed those types of questions the mother stated.

Now Allyn Hutton, the local district superintendent apologized for having notified the parents prior to the lesson, the Daily Mail reported.

'We have a practice of if a topic is considered sensitive, parents should be informed. In this situation, that didn't happen,' Hutton said.

Offering further explanation, the superintendent added, "The whole culture at Mitchell School is about teaching tolerance and respect. The people presenting the lesson thought [I Am Jazz] was one more piece of teaching that lesson. In retrospect, we understand that toleration is tolerating people of all opinions."