by Meghan Olson •
Over 14,000 students, educators and parents are expected to participate in more than 200 readings across the U.S. today
WASHINGTON -- Today, thousands of parents, educators, elected officials and allies will join in solidarity with transgender and non-binary students by hosting school and community readings of I Am Jazz, a children’s book by transgender teen trailblazer Jazz Jennings, as well as additional titles. The seventh annual Jazz and Friends National Day of School and Community Readings is sponsored by the Welcoming Schools Program at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, and the National Educational Association (NEA), the country’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3 million educators across the U.S and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), representing over 7,000 school librarians in the U.S., Canada and abroad.
This year features readings of the four children’s books including Born Ready by HRC Foundation Board Co-Chair Jodie Patterson, Calvin by J.R. Ford and Vanessa Ford, I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and From the Stars in the Sky to the Fishes in the Sea by Kai Cheng Thom. Today, more than200 readings are being held and attended by over 14,000 participants across the U.S. To mark the day in this virtual environment, HRC also released a new video of advocates, HRC staff, U.S. Representatives Angie Craig (D-MN), Mark Takano (D-CA) and representatives from NEA, reading Calvin.
Following yet another year of cruel attacks on the rights and dignity of transgender young people -- including a firestorm of proposed state legislation that could bar transgender youth and their parents from making decisions about their medical care -- the day of readings helps foster safe and welcoming schools and communities for youth who still rarely hear affirming stories of LGBTQ+ people. In addition to Calvin, participants will have the option of reading from additional books about transgender and non-binary youth of color, including Born Ready by HRC Foundation Board Co-Chair Jodie Patterson, Calvin by J.R. Ford and Vanessa Ford, I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and From the Stars in the Sky to the Fishes in the Sea by Kai Cheng Thom.
HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools is the only bias-based bullying prevention program in the nation to provide LGBTQ+-specific training and resources with an intersectional lens specifically to educators and youth-serving professionals. HRC’s Welcoming Schools has created a guide to help organizers of Jazz and Friends reading events build more affirming and supportive spaces for transgender and non-binary youth across the country. You can register to receive that guide here.
To provide examples of LGBTQ+ affirming books, the HRC Foundation has several book lists ranging from children’s books to new book lists for middle school and high school students. Affirming books featured on these lists includes ‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda,’ by Becky Albertalli which was adapted into the popular film ‘Love, Simon,’ ‘Obie is Man Enough,’ by openly transgender swimmer Schuyler Bailar and ‘The Great Big Book of Families,’ by Mary Hoffman. These lists are just one example of the resources provided by HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools Program to educate and inspire students, educators, parents and interested readers.
For more information on the Jazz and Friends National Day of School and Community Readings, visit hrc.im/jazzandfriends.
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