This is something that I felt was important to share today.
It’s a special day across the Washtenaw County school system as we are participating in the nationwide reading of a book called I am Jazz. The Health Department, Campaign for Human Rights and leaders across all of Washtenaw County, in partnership with one another, are helping to support the message in this children’s book which is the autobiographical account of a transgender elementary student.
As you may (or may not) be able to imagine, when the information of this day first started to circulate among parents, there was a great deal of dissension between our superintendents and some of the parents in our communities. Particularly with the parents of elementary aged children. There has been very public grumbling and opposition on our local education and news websites as to whether or not this was necessary or age appropriate. After viewing this story, I feel the answer is yes in both cases. From the start, there has been a clear and open option for anyone to opt-out if they wanted their child to do an alternate activity during the time of this reading. The accomodation of this was key, kind and addressed willingly in a very respectful and open way. Alas, even with many social workers provided at the ready for children and parents alike, the opposition it does continue.
Between myself and my two girls, we currently represent three separate school districts. All of which are participating this morning within their grade schools. Ann Arbor alone represents more than 80 different countries, is home to a Big 10 university, and they offer more alternative learning options and facilities for students than I’d ever seen. It is a city that has thrived and been built on inclusion and diversity. They would be remiss were they not to participate.
This event and the accompanying family events tomorrow have surely been new waters to navigate for some of our leaders. They have been fearlessly fielding concerns as well as outrage in the weeks since the announcement and have done their best to educate their communities on this groundbreaking decision and the reasoning behind it. They have had to provide professional resources to explain to grown adults that teaching our children to embrace diversity in gender identity does not mean that that we are discussing sexuality with young people or promoting sexual identity “confusion”. And they have done it all with grace and respect for all opinions.
So, if you’re interested, take a listen. I was so proud and a tad giddy to see so many of my colleagues in the video they will be using at my daughter’s grade school in particular. Jeanice is one of my most favorite people that I have met since I started working in Michigan. And Oliver is a young man I’ve gotten to know well through his work heading the student led diversity council called UpRoar, and his work with my daughter’s Star Program inclusion group.
I am so thankful for the acceptance and understanding of all people that is being taught and grown here in our students. And that every student’s individuality is celebrated.
Have a great weekend, Friends!