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Totally Jazzed: Bay Area Schools Host Reading of I am Jazz

by Guest contributor April 26, 2016


Post submitted by Welcoming Schools Consultant Rick Oculto

As the Education Coordinator for Our Family Coalition and a consultant for HRC’s Welcoming Schools in San Francisco, California, I recently worked with schools in the Bay Area to host readings of I Am Jazz. While I collaborate with educators and school administrators to implement Welcoming Schools year round as a guide to create safe and inclusive climates for youth and families of diverse backgrounds, the readings of I am Jazz, a children’s book about transgender youth co-written by HRC Youth Ambassador Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthel, were a great opportunity to to educate the community and to show the school’s support for diversity.

In January, over 3000 students, ranging from pre-K to 5th grade, participated in the event. Through the book, they were able to talk about gender, diversity and inclusion.

While the event took place earlier this year, I recently went to one of the schools that participated to pick up the books we had lent them. When I arrived at the front desk, I learned that one of the copies was still in a classroom with a teacher.

I followed the office assistant to a Spanish immersion class and several students in the classroom saw that I was holding a copy of I Am Jazz and their faces lit up. In excited tones from everyone in the classroom I could hear, "Es I Am Jazz! Podemos leerlo otra vez?" (It's I Am Jazz! Can we read it again?) Just the sight of the book brought a smile to everyone's faces-- you might even say everyone was jazzed. The students loved her story and it showed.

As I walked out of the classroom, I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face. After doing this work for 15 years, I was elated to see students in elementary school celebrating and embracing the LGBTQ community.

HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools program is joining with the National Education Association (NEA) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) to hold community readings of I Am Jazz across the country on April 28, 2016.

Teachers, parents and other allies all across the nation are signing up for our national day of action on Thursday and we hope you can join us. The readings can take place in schools, libraries, bookstores and even your own home.

For more information on how you can host your own reading and to download our discussion guide, visit www.hrc.org/IAmJazz.

For more information on supporting transgender children and youth, visit www.hrc.org/trans-youth.





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