OTTAWA — A very troubling story has emerged from Wisconsin. A teacher at the
Mount Horeb Primary Center planned to read the book “I am Jazz” to the class and then discuss it with them.
A parent got wind of this and notified the right-wing Liberty Counsel, which threatened to sue the school. The school district subsequently decided not to go through with the reading. The final paragraph of the threatening letter (which set out a whole series of lies about transgender people) read:
Liberty Counsel is deeply concerned about this impending violation of civil rights, and if this request is ignored, will be tracking in which classes this book is read, and who reads it. If harm results to children, including gender confusion, violations of restroom privacy or other harms, all options will be explored, including a federal lawsuit against teachers and staff in their official and individual capacities for violation of parental rights.
The full letter is at https://lc.org/PDFs/Attachments2PRsLAs/2015/112315LettertoMHASD.pdf.
The irony of this is incredible; if it weren’t so tragic, it would be farcical. A group of lawyers is abusing the U.S. legal system to threaten a school so it does NOT expose children to knowledge. In the name of freedom, the Liberty Counsel demands the perpetuation of bigotry and ignorance. And to compound the hypocrisy, the Liberty Counsel’s “About” page says: “The purpose of this ministry is to preserve religious liberty and help create and maintain a society in which everyone will have the opportunity to discover the truth that will give true freedom.”
George Orwell could not have imagined a more duplicitous piece of doublespeak. And the final disgusting piece to this tale is that Liberty Counsel is recognized as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
The IRS really needs to start investigating charities and revoking the charitable designation of those groups that aren’t actually helping disadvantaged people. Liberty Counsel, in fact, is deliberately targeting a vulnerable segment of the population and perpetuating hateful stereotypes. This is completely shameful.
Furthermore, progressive lawyers and organizations need to support targets of this group and have them stand up against the threats of legal action.