Rhea Mahbubani

‘The Hostility Has to End': Rocklin Charter Schools OK Transgender Books After Fracas Over ‘I am Jazz'

A Northern California school board voted unanimously to keep its literature policies following months of controversy over a book about a transgender child that a teacher read to a kindergarten class.

The Rocklin Academy Family of Schools also adopted a provision to give parents advance notice if a controversial topic will be discussed in class.

The vote late Monday came during a packed meeting that included hours of emotional and often tearful testimony, the Sacramento Bee reported.

The controversy began June 7 when a transgender student brought the children's book "I Am Jazz" and her teacher read it to her kindergarten class. "I Am Jazz" is the story of a real-life transgender girl named Jazz Jennings.

The controversy grew over the summer with some parents expressing concerns that there was warning the book would be read and some saying parents should have a say in what students learn. Others supported the decision to read the book.

The book was part of the California Department of Education's recommended reading list and was given to the teacher by a transgender student in the process of transitioning, the school said.

Wendy Sickler, a parent of two children at Rocklin Gateway Academy, said her "concern is that a book that was read was outside the curriculum, and it was a sensitive topic, and the parents weren't notified."

But Sickler felt stronger changes are needed than those brought before the school board.

"Today I come here with an open mind," she said. "I do believe the proposal in the board packet is loose. It says they will endeavor to notify. I do not think that is strong, and I don't think it makes staff accountable. If that is the policy that is in place, I will not support that."

Some families have pulled their children from the school, though the number is disputed between the divided factions.

After the vote, school board member Larry Steiner pleaded with parents to come together and move forward now that a decision had been made.

"Please let this end tonight," he said. "We cannot forget Rocklin Academy is a school of choice. The hostility has to end. Let's bring back our sense of community."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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