Elementary Book Review- I AM JAZZ & CALVIN





Email sent to employee charged with heading up the committees asking to escalate the QUESTIONED MATERIALS ANDCONTROVERSIAL ISSUES IN CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION BOOK CHALLENGE to the next level as stated in Policy 606.1: Part C


01.15.24 Email to District- Concerns Not Addressed

We would like to escalate the first two challenged book reviews/ committee reports.  

We do not feel our concerns have been addressed through Policy 606.1, nor through the findings that were given by the review committee.   

Mr. Rummel, you previously stated in an email exchange with me that "the district is committed to a process that follows Board policy/regulation." We could go point by point through the policy and list numerous deviations that have occurred instead of what is stated in the policy. Please let us know if you need us to forward past email exchanges that reference those concerns.  

It is obvious that the books Calvin and I am Jazz do not contain sexually explicit materials. They do, however, contain topics on sexuality that are not age-appropriate, and that are incongruent with real world occurrences and professional studies. We feel this was grossly overlooked along with the highlighted bullet points found within district policy.  

With these two challenges it seems necessary to point out that these books do not meet the standard of what is laid out in the following policies:  

Policy 606  

1. Supports the goals and standards of the educational program;   

Contrary to the district strategic mission and values, these books do not promote unity and inclusion.  Rather it presents a single viewpoint on a socially and culturally divisive issue that devalues the morals and beliefs of several cultures and faiths. This book is antagonistic towards the goals of cultural proficiency and fails to facilitate mutual understanding between opposing viewpoints and values essential for building respectful diverse relationships.  

2. Considers the needs, age, culture, and maturity of students;  

Proper consideration would establish standards that could necessitate excluding a book or restricting it to certain grade levels that are appropriate for the topic.  The material may have a certain reading level but that is not a primary determinant of who has access.  Reviewers failed to establish or identify any child sexual development standards for considering which grade levels are appropriate and failed to acknowledge which cultures and faiths may not find this material appropriate.  Maturity varies across students, but it is incumbent on the reviewers to establish clinical support for developmental maturity in understanding certain sexuality and gender topics, evidence that supports a high majority of students, rather than rare exceptions, who can comprehend topics and their real-world impacts.  

Policy 606.1  

1. Controversial issues, duly selected for their educational value, age appropriateness, and congruence with adopted curricula are intrinsically relevant to an educational program that seeks to provide students with the means to become participating citizens.  

Reviewers did not indicate which adopted curricula these books were intended to supplement and how the treatment of the pertinent sexuality and gender topics in the book could reinforce adopted curricula.  For example, are there similar topics being taught as required curricula in classrooms?  

Per Media FAQ that provides Guidelines for Media Specialists  

  • Choose materials appropriate for the subject area and for the age, emotional development, ability level, learning style, and social, emotional, and intellectual development of the students for whom the materials are selected  
  • Incorporate accurate and authentic factual content from authoritative sources  

  • Exhibit a high degree of potential user appeal and interest  

  • Meet high standards in literary, artistic, and aesthetic quality; technical aspects; and physical format  

  • Comply with policies of the Bloomington Public Schools  

  • Books are de-selected and discarded because they no longer fit the selection criteria above, because they are dated, obsolete, or have inaccurate materials.  

  • The selection criteria above will be used to determine if donated books will be added to a school collection.  

These books were not simply chosen to challenge because we do not agree with the viewpoint shared, and the Strategic Plan shouldn't be used as a guideline or as a validation to refuse our request. Inclusion means to not exclude someone because of race or gender. It does not mean we bend over backward and allow anything and everything to come through the doors just because it has a "gender" or "LGBTIA" label on it. Discretion is not thrown out the window because people cannot determine what the meaning of inclusivity means. In fact, more discretion should be used in our fast-paced, ever-evolving world to protect against treating our children as though they are guinea pigs for trial. Furthermore, the district has 174 "gender" titles between all the elementary schools. Someone would be hard pressed to say you were not being inclusive...if that is how you chose to see the term.  

Also, these books are available at local libraries, allowing for parental involvement to help young readers process the information and ideas they are reading. Self-selection at the school library does not allow for parental control and involvement. Allowing these books in the school libraries also gives implied permission to teachers to read this controversial content to students. An "opt in" at the elementary and middle schools is extremely important in respect of parental control privilege.  

More specific to the books, we did not agree for these reasons:  

First, the wording on the document Concerns from the “Statement of Concern about Educational Materials” form states our concern as the following; Concern 2: This book is inappropriate for the media center. If you look at the policy 606.1a form that was filled out, you will notice that the concern is much more than it simply being inappropriate, and this information was not offered to the committee to take into consideration. They very well interpreted this to mean our group thinks a transgender person is inappropriate when in fact we believe that the selection of these books did not include consideration of the readers age, maturity, and accurate information. Nor was the culture of the majority of the student base in ISD 271 considered.  

The books are for K-1 and discuss sexuality at too young of an age. It is highly controversial and has no educational value to support curriculum. It is not age-appropriate nor is it appropriate for students' emotional level and intellectual development. Children may like to do the stereotypical activities of the opposite sex, but as in CALVIN girls do not present or have dysphoria at this age. It does not incorporate accurate and authentic factual content. Neither book is of a high literary standard. Not one child will become a non-participating citizen for not having read these books.  

Here are a few resources: 


https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0202330   (rapid onset dysphoria for girl's is the mean age of 16)    

https://widerlenspod.substack.com/p/128-as-weird-as-a-chicken-crying-e4a  (American Academy of P Pediatrics (AAP) oppressing Gender info and basing recommendation based on weak info.) 



Please see the attached listening session statement made by a licensed professional clinical counselor.

09.11.23 Listening Session Statement

Furthermore, we as a community have the sovereignty to choose what is best for those in our own schools, so it is irrelevant when you highlight certain awards given to books. What are the standards by which the award was given? Are they considering the appropriateness for the school setting or considering the emotional and maturity level of children to read these on their own? Not all books are for every setting. Please keep in mind the book industry is for profit and books are propped up for a reason and for agendas. This is precisely why more due diligence is needed as gender theory is newer and has come to the forefront.  

Were the Media Materials Review Committee comments simply excerpts from more detailed commentary? The comments displayed showed almost no analysis of the books in the context of the Media Center's stated mission and its criteria for resource collection. Reading the comments, it seems as if the only criteria they considered was "does the reviewer like the book?"  

Were the reviewer excerpts taken from more detailed comments, and if so, we would like access to the full commentary. What are the qualifications of the community reviewers?  

Here are a few questions/observations that are unresolved by your review:   

1) How do these books promote inclusivity - are there really 4- to 5-year-olds that want to transition?  The answer is no, it could only be a push from their parents to do so.  There is no "real world relevance" as one reviewer stated.    

Here's what the Calvin author stated:  

"There are pieces of what Calvin says that Ellie said to us early on," Vanessa Ford says. "But we have a large network of families with many children who transitioned around 4 or 5 years old, and each one of these children have informed us of their own experiences, and we've grown up with them in our community of families with trans kids."  

The problem is that this does not align with mainstream child and sexual development experts, as has been noted. Essentially it is not age-appropriate, but if you simply inject into the story a kid in elementary or middle school, does that alone somehow makes it age-appropriate. Not according to the research links above.  

2) The book CALVIN represents different ethnicities - that is not why the book is being evaluated and is not an overriding factor if a book has literary or academic merit.  If a book had an empathetic take on a bi-racial Hitler sycophant, does that meet the district criteria on inclusion?  No, they would say the ideas espoused by the book character are the primary concern.  

3) Some reviewers are unwittingly admitting this is indoctrination. There is no sound evidence that shows 4- and 5-year-olds have any grasp on sexual identities based on inner feelings - they barely know biological identities. One comment points out how much "prep" work was done in preparing others for Calvin's coming out. That is indoctrination. And ask yourself if you truly believe that children have that much fear about what other kids think of them.   

This story takes a radical position on a sensitive cultural issue and applies it to a vulnerable age of readers that cannot possibly grasp potential lifelong mental and physical health impacts if they chose to emulate characters in the story. Clearly, this story is an indoctrination piece to further an extreme gender and sexuality social agenda and needs to be reconsidered for our school media centers.  

4. I Am Jazz- First, the media specialist’s comment that the book has little plot. Second, this book labels a child as Transgender. This is indoctrination, and it is inaccurate as a child is still developing and discovering who they are. A child is being boxed in to believe that is what they are even when they cannot understand and fully grasp what they are being labeled as they are not mature enough to comprehend what the adult is telling them.  

5. In the review of "I Am Jazz", one comment was "In elementary school we read a book and then we tackled big issues". I don't know what these "big issues" were that this reviewer tackled, but he/she lack appreciation for the "Media Center Book Selection Criteria, which states that chosen materials be "appropriate for the subject area and for the age, emotional development... of the students for whom the materials are selected." Not one reviewer assesses that at all. There's also nothing stated as to how these two books "support or enrich the curriculum" as further required by the Media Center's criteria. We are concerned about the lack of awareness and perspective of any reviewer who says, "I don't find [I Am Jazz] that controversial".  

In conclusion, we would like to point out the whole ethical argument of transgenderism, and the mental and physical health issues and morality associated with it. There are elements of these two books that are very misleading to young readers. One is that a change in gender identification to another gender is an easy one to carry out. Or that family, friends and medical providers can ethically or morally support a transition for a child well under the age of reason, or for an older child that has underlying trauma or mental health diagnoses. The other is the notion that once children make that choice at a very young age, they continue to identify that way as they grow older. The reality is that many children simply go through a phase, or that for example many girls are at some point tomboys who later develop femininity, needs to be taught if these two books are accepted into our schools.