A video posted to the National Education Association’s YouTube page features second-grade students waving flags and celebrating books about “nonbinary and transgender youth” as part of the fifth annual Jazz & Friends National Day of School & Community Readings, which took place Thursday across the United States.
What are the details?
The clip starts off with Human Rights Campaign Press Secretary Elliott Kozuch — who identifies as “nonbinary” — telling the gathered children that “my pronouns are they and them” and that the event is taking place on ground once inhabited by Native Americans whose history has been “suppressed during the telling of story of America.”
The HRC is the “largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer civil rights organization” sporting a “force of more than 3 million members and supporters.” The HRC partnered with the NEA for the reading day.
Kozuch then told the children two people will be reading books to them — “Julián Is a Mermaid” and “I am Jazz.” The latter is about famed transgender youth Jazz Jennings, who in 2018 proclaimed her excitement about being scheduled to get a sex-change operation: “Like penis to vagina. That’s some serious s**t, y’all … I can’t believe it. I’m gonna have a vagina!”
At one point during the introductions, NEA President Lily Eskelsen García from the stage encouraged the second graders to “wave your flags if you’re excited about Julián and Jazz!”
Kozuch added that there are more than 300 readings for more than 26,000 people “doing the same thing we’re doing today, being in community to read books that support nonbinary and transgender youth.”
Kozuch also asked the children, “Is your school a welcoming school?” A loud “yes!” followed.
Who read the books?
Garcia read “Julián Is a Mermaid” to the second graders while HRC President Alphonso David read “I am Jazz.”
Prior to her reading, Garcia — the first Latina to lead the NEA and “one of the country’s most influential Hispanic educators,” Kozuch said — told the second graders that in the story, Julián is an “amazing mermaid” even though many people don’t think boys should want to be mermaids.
According to his bio, David is a “nationally recognized LGBTQ civil rights lawyer and advocate” and is the “first person of color to serve as president of HRC.” He also was appointed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to serve as counsel to the governor, which means he’s been Cuomo’s “principal legal adviser and managed all significant legal and policy deliberations affecting New York State …”
Here’s the clip: