My students reflect the cultural richness of New York City--and speak 34 different languages among them! Library interns Sherry, Shantel and Z. have helped build an LGBTQ+ library collection, and will collaborate with me in coordinating an author visit that will support the LGBTQ+ students' community. My students want to change the world!
Sherry, Shantel and Z. are helping build a social justice library that supports the political conversations we have held in the library since last fall. Through these books and conversations, our students are seeking new vocabulary, new concepts, and new courage to examine the complex issues in our society today.
Student-led projects give young people a voice. LGBTQ+ students especially need to find a safe space in the library--and a place to build community and confidence. Building a book collection allows students to follow their curiosity, affirm their identities, and keep their love of literacy alive.
My students will also gain organizational, research and leadership skills when they help coordinate a visit with author Sassafras Lowrey. They will read and research the author's work, and create thoughtful interview questions. When the author arrives, they will help run the Q&A session. Lowrey will speak from personal experience about being a queer teen runaway, and will discuss the art, craft and business side of writing. Aspiring writers and students in the queer community will find the event enlightening. The event will be equally enriching for the moderators and audience.
In Their Own Words
We students want a collection of LGBTQ+ books to help create a safe and welcoming environment, open for self-exploration and self-education about these issues, in a space where students know they will not be judged. Having a varied collection of LGBTQ+ books will ensure that there is something that resonates with each student. In the previous year, our SAGA hosted a small book club where we read Gender Outlaws together and discussed it. This year, we are going to select other books from this collection to discuss in a safe space. By bringing in author Sassafras Lowrey, we will be able to have a complete understanding of hir book and experience.
By coordinating this speaker event and choosing books for the library, we learn how to take initiative, analyze literary material, and feel confident in our decisions that will reach a broad spectrum of students. There are many books published featuring LGBTQ+ characters, but we want to make decisions about which books are the highest quality, put LGBTQ+ characters in the spotlight, and present them in a manner that is non-offensive and relatable.
Creating a more diverse collection of LGBTQ+ books and getting firsthand experience with an author makes for a more inclusive and comfortable environment where students know they are welcome and can learn more about themselves. Our school is home to several unique LGBTQ+ students. We want them to find reading material that is informative and relatable, and to feel at home having discussions about books in the library.
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