Sixth Annual Bisexual Book Awards Nominees

bi writers association BWA

The Bi Writers Association has released the nominees for the sixth annual Bisexual Book Awards. The nominees are all books published in 2017, and the winners will be announced on June 1st at a ceremony in New York.

See under the cut for the full list of nominees.

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Working with LGBTQ2s+ Families Workshop

A colleague of mine, Jean Broughton, recently attended a workshop on working with LGBTQ+ families, and has kindly allowed me to re-post their report on it here!


I attended Working with LGBTQ2S+ families, a two-day workshop offered by Westcoast Childcare Resource Centre and facilitated by Qmunity. Qmunity is currently (April 2018) auditing WCCRC’s library for inclusivity and adding more LGBTQ2S books (see list below).

Most workshop participants were Early Childhood Educators from different preschools, especially neighbourhood houses.

Day 1 focused on terminology used by LGBTQ2S individuals and families to describe themselves. Those definitions are available here. (Note that this document is currently being updated.) The major takeaway was that you should mirror the language used by the individual.

We also learned about the binary model: female genitals = girl/woman identity = feminine expression = attracted to men. In this model, each category has exactly two options. However, in life, none of these are binaries. People may be intersex, be attracted to people of many genders or attracted to nobody at all, identify as a gender different than the one they were assigned at birth, and so on.

The Gender Unicorn is a more nuanced tool that individuals can use to describe their gender. It can be used with children.

On Day 2, we practiced using they/them/their pronouns to talk about one person. Some workshop participants found this very challenging and the practice was helpful in getting used to using “they” in a context where messing up wasn’t a big deal.

We were also encouraged to think about ways in which gendered or heterosexist assumptions are coded into our spaces. For example, are the costumes divided into boy and girl costumes? Is the dress-up corner near the kitchen and far from the blocks? Are children asked to divide themselves into groups by gender? In a library context, we might think about representation and gender in the stories we read and the songs we sing. What kinds of families are represented in the posters around our spaces?

We also talked about gender non-conforming children. The preschool years are a time when children explore their gender, and it is normal for them to experiment. It is important for them to be supported in their exploration and to hold off on making determinations about their gender. The three key words for recognizing a transgender child are persistent, insistent, and consistent in stating that their gender does not match what they were assigned at birth. ECE workers see themselves as acting as advocates for children, especially when a child is exploring gender in ways that make the parents uncomfortable, such as when all of the children want to paint their nails.

Other resources that were mentioned:

QTBIPOC Road Map (Queer and Trans Black, Indigenous and People of Colour): graphic synthesis of a discussion between 50 Queer, Trans and Two-Spirit youth of colour from across BC about available services and service gaps. The library is not mentioned, but there are definitely some needs we can fill!

Two Spirit Resource Directory, developed by Harlen Pruden, VPL board member. East Coast in focus, but still useful.

A Map of Gender Diverse Cultures: PBS resource exploring cultures that have always recognized multiple genders.

Qmunity hosts a drop in for LGBTQ2S youth drops-ins for ages 14-25, and tween drop-ins for ages 10-14 with their parents. These are staffed by Youth Workers. They also offer counselling and referrals.


Westcoast Childcare Resource Centre offers a variety of workshops typically aimed at “parents, Early Learning and Child Care Professionals, and others working with young children and their families.” Their office is located in Vancouver, although they do occasionally offer webcasts or webinars. To see a list of their upcoming workshops, click here.

Reflecting on Freedom to Read Week

Freedom to Read Week brings up mixed emotions for me. On the one hand, I relish the opportunity to challenge literary censorship and put some of my favourite books on display. On the other hand, it can be sobering to reflect on the types of books I’m putting out. The term “banned books” conjures images of salacious and violent classics like The Scarlet Letter or The Lord of the Flies, their banning a distant memory. In reality, books are still being challenged in libraries and schools, and a great deal of them are due to LGBTQ+ content.

ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom publishes annual lists of the top ten most challenged books, and half of the 2016 titles (the most recent available list) have been challenged over LGBTQ+ content.

These include:

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

This One Summer

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Drama

George by Alex Gino

George

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings, and Shelagh McNicholas

I Am Jazz

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing

Previous years include many LGBTQ+ titles as well, such as

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

 

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

(This title in particular has been on the list many years running, despite being based on a true story.)

And Tango Makes Three

It seems you could point at essentially any LGBTQ+ title, especially children’s or young adult, and it is likely to have been banned or challenged at some point.

Freedom to Read Kit

Canada is not immune from these challenges either. In this year’s Freedom to Read Kit, Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies professor Rob Bittner discusses the challenges that are frequently levied against children’s books with LGBTQ+ content. His article “You’re Letting My Kids Read What?!” explores the backlash and moral panic that often occurs when these books pop up in libraries and classrooms.

So, while I delighted in watching LGBTQ+ titles fly off the shelves this past week (marking them as banned really does seem to make them more enticing), it was with the heavy knowledge that these books are still under attack, especially when they have younger target audiences. However, it really makes me appreciate connecting with library professionals, academics, and other community members who are fighting for the acknowledgement and acceptance of LGBTQ+ literature for all ages.

2018 Rainbow Book List

Rainbow-Top-Ten-768x465

The American Library Association’s GLBT Roundtable has released its annual Rainbow List. The list is “curated bibliography highlighting books with significant gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning content, aimed at children and youth from birth to age 18.” All books on the list were published between July 2016 and December 2017.

For the full list, see under the cut.

Read More »

Canada Reads 2018 Longlist

The longlist for the 2018 Canada Reads competition was announced on January 16th, and there are two queer reads represented, Tomboy Survival Guide by Ivan Coyote and The Clothesline Swing by Ahmad Danny Ramadan.

The shortlist of five books will be announced January 30th, with debates happening March 26-29.

Read more about Ivan Coyote here, and more about Ahmad Danny Ramadan here and here.

Book Review: The Seafarer’s Kiss

Written by Julia Ember, a self-identified “polyamorous, bisexual writer.”
Published May 4, 2017 by Duet Books
230 pages
Goodreads, Kirkus, School Library Journal
Bisexual female protagonist, genderqueer Loki

Ersel is a mermaid living in an Arctic society ruled by a callous king, and is prized for her breeding capabilities in her low birth rate community. She has a fascination with human objects, often trekking into shipwreck ruins to search for new collectibles. She witnesses a ship going down and is intrigued by the lone survivor, a woman named Ragna with mysterious moving tattoos. Wishing to become human and be with Ragna, Ersel makes a 51d+jc+WPDL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_deal with the shapeshifting and genderqueer Norse God Loki, but deals with the God of Lies often backfire. Now banned from her home and unable to be with the woman she loves, Ersel must find a way to outsmart Loki and save her community.

Marketed as a “Little Mermaid” retelling, The Seafarer’s Kiss definitely has some of the main plot points: mermaids, deals with “villains” involving legs and voices, and wanting to be human, but it manages to be its own story. Ersel reads as bisexual, having feelings for her male childhood best friend and for a human woman. Readers never really get much of an insight to the characters, and the writing (especially the ending) comes across a bit rushed. A lot is packed into the 230 pages, and there is enough happening to keep the story going, but it is easily skimmed.

The romance side also leaves a bit to be desired. There is a brief non-graphic sex scene between Ersel and Ragna, and they both declare their desire for one another, but there is not much beyond that.

I would recommend this book to fantasy lovers who don’t mind occasionally flawed writing, and for anyone looking for a quick and easy read. If you’re looking for more queer merfolk, check out this list on Goodreads.

LGBTQ+ Library Spotlight: Out On The Shelves Library at UBC

One of our lovely members, Casey S., has written up this profile of the newly re-opened Out On The Shelves Library up at the University of British Columbia! Thank you Casey!

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For those of you in the Vancouver area, there is very exciting news in the world of queer books: Out On The Shelves, Vancouver’s only LGBTQ2IA+ library, has just re-opened! I’m one of the co-coordinators and I couldn’t be happier and more excited and proud that my and a lot of volunteers’ hard work over the past year has resulted in our precious little library actually being open to the public again!

Some of you might remember the Out On The Shelves library from its time downtown off of Davie St in the Qmunity building. Out On The Shelves was actually founded in 1983 by a group of volunteers and it has had a long journey at different locations around the Davie St gaybourhood before its arrival at our new location on the West Point Grey UBC campus on Musqueam territory! If you frequented the old Out On The Shelves, we would love to have you back! If you’ve never heard of Out On The Shelves, we would love to sign you up for a library card for the first time! We are also always looking for volunteers to staff the library as well as other library tasks such as collection development, fundraising, social media, cataloguing, and more. No library experience required, although of course we love to have library workers and/or library students.

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It’s free for anyone to get a library card with us. Although we are located at UBC, you don’t have to be a student or staff at UBC; we’re not affiliated with the university library. We have some pretty rad LGBTQ2IA+ books, including some you can’t find anywhere else in Vancouver. We’re a great place to find an available copy of a new queer book that your local public library has a long hold list for or an older book that your local public library doesn’t carry anymore. We have a diverse range of popular fiction and non-fiction with strong collections in Canadian materials and a nice balance of older seminal books and brand new ones. We are presently focused on building our collection of underrepresented parts of LGBTQ2IA+ communities, including books by authors of colour and/or featuring bisexual, trans, two-spirit, intersex, and asexual characters and/or written by BT2IA authors. We are always accepting donations of materials and suggestions for specific items that we should have.

Check out our catalogue here to see what we have. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. Stay tuned for an official grand opening and party in January 2018!

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If you know of an LGBTQ+ library or special collection, please write up a profile and submit it to either Lindsay or myself!