Kindergarten students at a Virginia elementary school recognized transgender kids last week during the annual Read Across America Day, the Washington Post reported.
Children at Ashlawn Elementary School in Arlington listened as transgender advocate Sarah McBride of the Human Rights Campaign read "I Am Jazz," a book about a transgender girl.
"I have a girl brain but a boy body. This is called transgender. I was born this way," McBride read to dozens of students on Thursday.
Read Across America Day, sponsored by the National Education Association, is meant to help motivate children to read. This was the first year that the group has partnered with LGBT advocacy group HRC.
What does the district say about discussing LGBT issues with kids?
Arlington County Public Schools don't have a specific curriculum for teaching sexual orientation or gender identity, according to Ashlawn kindergarten teacher Jaim Foster.
Foster, who is gay, told the Post that he talks to his students about his experiences with his spouse and stocks his classroom with books, including, "Heather Has Two Mommies" and "My Princess Boy."
"We talk about it all the time, in one way or another, of accepting families and differences," Foster said.
He also reflected on how things have changed across the nation in recent years.
Foster said he was an LGBT advocate in college, but he was discouraged from being an openly gay teacher when he started teaching nearly 20 years ago.
"I was told I had to stop being that advocate, and I had to go back into the closet because it wasn't really safe," he told the Post. "You could be fired."
What else did McBride say to the children?
After reading the book, McBride told the kids that she was like the transgender girl in the story.
"I'm like Jazz," she reportedly said. " When I was born, the doctors and my parents, they all thought that I was a boy."
"Why?" one girl asked.
"Because society, people around them told them that was the case," McBride said. "It took me getting a little bit older to be able to say that in my heart and in my mind, I knew I was really a girl."
The kids started talking about hair length.
"Can some girls have short hair?" McBride asked. "And can some boys have long hair?"
The kids agreed that boys and girls can have long or short hair.
"Anyone can be anything," another girl said.
McBride said she wanted to send a message of tolerance on Read Across America Day.
"For young people, being kind and being respectful is quite simple," she said. "LGBTQ young people are their classmates, their friends. They may be LGBTQ themselves. And so, this just makes sense. No one's ever too young to learn to be nice."