Post submitted by Charles Girard, Welcoming Schools Project Coordinator
On Thursday, May 18, HRC’s Welcoming Schools program and the National Education Association (NEA) will hold the second annual National I Am Jazz School and Community Readings. Hosting one of these readings in your community is one of many ways that teachers, principals, PTAs, and local community members can show transgender students that they aren’t alone.
I only wish this type of event existed when I was in elementary school. Before I even came out as transgender, I remember asking one of my elementary school teachers if she had any books with “a kid like me” as the protagonist, struggling to find language to ask for reflections of myself as a gender-creative kid. The best she could do was hand me Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet. While that book became one of my favorite books as a kid, it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. My teacher knew what I was asking for, but she didn’t have the resources to help.
However, with books like I am Jazz, Annie’s Plaid Shirt, and Introducing Teddy times have changed. There are more books on the market to help children and adults alike understand gender and what it means to be transgender. Allowing students to hear and read stories that reflect their realities is just one way to help all youth to succeed in school academically and socially. The best part? You can get involved right now.
You can make a difference by signing up to read I Am Jazz in a classroom or community on May 18.
What does it mean to host a reading?
All you have to do is gather a group of people together or schedule time in your classroom and read I Am Jazz. At HRC's first annual day of reading last year, more than 3,500 people across the country joined us.
Last year, the reading events were incredibly diverse and creative. Some readings included just a few friends in a living room or were held by teachers in their classrooms, while others were open to the public in libraries or places of worship. You can make your event as small or as big as you’d like.
How will HRC help you to host an incredible event?
After signing up, here’s what you need to host a successful event:
- The I Am Jazz organizing kit which includes:
- A lesson plan to go with the book
- Discussion questions for both adults and youth
- Some of our favorite transgender-related school resources
- A group of people who want to learn about and support transgender youth (both youth and adults love this book!)
- A copy of the book I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and HRC Youth Ambassador Jazz Jennings. Can’t get a copy? Here's a video of Jazz reading her book made especially for this day.
How can I get involved?
- Sign up at hrc.org/iamjazz or text “JAZZ” to 30644.
- Download an organizing kit.
- Get a copy of I Am Jazz and get ready to read!