Note: This post was written by Craig White, Supportive Schools Coordinator for the Campaign for Southern Equality. The Campaign for Southern Equality is proud to support Loudon Equality as part of our Southern Equality Fund.
I never know what to get people on their birthdays, but Equality Loudoun is making it easy: For their second birthday, they want LGBTQ inclusive books for Loudoun County Schools.
You may recall seeing Loudoun County in the news a few months ago, when the school board in this Virginia county narrowly approved a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. That victory was largely the result of years of organizing by a grassroots volunteer group called Equality Loudoun.
On May 4, Equality Loudoun is turning two. They’re asking their friends to purchase LGBTQ inclusive books for Loudoun County Schools, grades K-12. It’s important for students not only to be protected from discrimination, but also to see people like themselves represented in the books they read—and for all the students to learn about many diverse identities through their school libraries.
Will you join me in buying a book or two for Loudoun County Schools? They’ve got a wish list online—just click and purchase, select the gift address, and it gets delivered automatically. I love the idea of books arriving from people all over the country, telling these kids that they are welcome, they are normal, they belong.
Equality Loudon wrote about this initiative earlier this month. They wrote:
“The reality is 85% of LGBTQ students have been verbally harassed in school and 27% report being physically harassed in school. 76% of LGBTQ students heard “gay” used in a negative way. 93% of LGBTQ reported that this language caused them to feel distressed in some way*. We also know that 20%-40% of all homeless youth identify as LGBT. 32% of LGBT students report attempting suicide. 60% of LGBT students report using alcohol compared with 45% of non-LGBT students. 28% of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual students drop out of school because of verbal or physical harassment by other students.”
“We think outcomes for LGBTQIA students will improve when they are included and positively portrayed in books available to them. We reached out to every librarian at LCPS to ask if they would participate in this books drive. We wanted to ensure the schools want the books we are offering. We have had 32 schools sign up to participate in this book drive. They have requested over 750 books! So far, we have collected 170 books and we received a $500 grant from the Campaign for Southern Equality to buy books. We still have a long way to go if we are going to fulfill every book request.”
While you’re at it—what’s in your local public library and school media centers? There are some amazing children’s and young adult books being published these days, with a full range of LGBTQIA+ characters. Check them out, and if they’re not there, well, when’s your next birthday?