BELLINGHAM, Wash. — National publishers, Young America’s Foundation and The Daily Wire, ran stories yesterday, May 6th, about a Bellingham Public Schools 1st grade teacher who read a children’s book entitled, “I am Jazz,” to her class in February. The book is about a transgender person who felt “she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body.” At least 1 parent was reportedly unhappy upon learning the material being read in the class and an anonymous tip to YAF led to a story which was then picked up by The Daily Wire.
The stories cite an email reportedly from the teacher to a parent who asked if the book had been read to the class. The teacher reportedly confirmed to the parent the book had been read. The teacher is said to have added in the emailed reply, “Yes, I did read this book. As a district we are working hard to support all members of our school community and promote inclusion through understanding and compassion.”
Washington State voters approved Referendum No. 90 with nearly 60% approval last November. As a result, Washington’s school districts are required “to adopt or develop, consistent with state standards, comprehensive age-appropriate sexual health education, as defined, for all students, and excuse students if their parents request.” The vote upheld a state senate bill approved in March 2020 by state Democratic representatives without any Republican support.
Both publications that ran the stories are known for publishing content directed to conservative audiences.
Those supporting the referendum said the statewide mandate is a response to a public health crisis, adding young children should be able to talk about sexuality with trusted adults at schools to potentially stop abuse including among children who do not understand what an inappropriate touch is.
Those in opposition to the referendum said they opposed the content allowed by the new standards and the statewide mandate, which was seen as heavy-handed, preferring local district-level controls instead.
Bellingham Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Dr. Greg Baker said in an open letter dated May 6th and posted on the BPS website, “This attention is prompting hate speech and harassment based on our values as a district and our commitment to equitable, diverse and inclusive education.”
Both stories also included mentions of a Bellingham School Board director who operates a “gender-inclusive, woman-owned, all-ages sex shop,” as described in a 2018 Western Front story about the business. According to Baker’s letter, that business has been harassed as well. The stories questioned if working with young children was a conflict of interest for an owner of that type of business.