December 05, 2017

After anti-LGBTQ trolls went after a trans student, a community responded.

They expected 15 people that first year. 600 showed up.
  By Parker Molloy

The holidays have a way of turning tables on grinches — whether they be in Whoville or in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.

This particular story of family love and community acceptance began back in 2015 when a 6-year-old girl came out as transgender. The girl's mom, Sarah, and her school had her back and worked together to figure out how to make sure both the girl and her classmates were informed and comfortable with this news. The school decided to host a book reading of "I Am Jazz," co-authored by trans youth ambassador Jazz Jennings and author Jessica Herthel, which discusses gender identity.

Sarah and her daughter. All images via Human Rights Campaign/YouTube.

Sounds harmless, right? Well...

The grinches — in this case, the Liberty Council, an anti-LGBTQ law group — came to town demanding the event be cancelled. Little did they know how this would backfire.

Parents were given the opportunity to have their children opt-out of the reading, but that wasn't enough for Liberty Council. Fearing a lawsuit, administrators at Mount Horeb Primary Center cancelled the reading, sending an unfortunate message to the 6-year-old trans girl who was just looking to be accepted.

Just when it looked like all was lost, a stranger came through to save the day.

A concerned mother named Amy was distraught over the fact that a hateful organization was able to roll into town and bully a 6-year-old. Though she didn't know the girl, Amy and her family wanted to help. She signed up for a room at the local library to host a reading of "I Am Jazz" of her own.

She expected 15 people. 600 showed up.

A photo from the "I Am Jazz" reading at the Mount Horeb Public Library.

Each year since, people around the country have hosted their own "I Am Jazz" readings. This year's will be bigger than ever.

Thanks to the Human Rights Campaign, more than 200 readings are scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, to show support and acceptance for trans kids.

Sarah and Amy read the book to an audience.

Looking back on that day in 2015, it's hard not to wonder if the Liberty Council ever regrets not letting the school just host its reading so one student could feel a little safer and more welcomed. In trying to shut it down, they accidentally helped create a movement.

Watch a short video about the Mount Horeb reading and the history of the "I Am Jazz" day of reading below.

For more information on how you can host a future event or finding one near you, visit hrc.org/IAmJazz.