You Belong @ Your Library: LGBTQ+ & Allies Youth Group

You Belong is a weekly, ongoing, after-school drop-in program designed and facilitated by Toronto Public Library Youth Services Librarian Sepideh Mckensy to provide an inclusive and welcoming space for LGBTQ+ young people in the suburbs outside Toronto. The group host one creative LGBTQ+ guest speaker or fabulously fun event every month. Youth get the opportunity, along with their peers, to select and plan the events, create displays, design fliers and be a part of the promotion. This is an opportunity for youth with shared values to network, have fun and make a difference!

youbelong1

In terms of a general overview, the program is structured so that each month the group works towards hosting one big event or guest speaker.  The youth work together to prepare for this event or speaker, advertise, put up displays in the library, prepare decoration and plan.

Some examples of events the group has organized include:

An LGBTQ+ Film festival – in partnership with the local LGBTQ+ film organization Inside Out the group showed films all month long.

Queer Prom (Food, dancing, balloons)

(Here is a link for the local newspaper article they did on this event

https://www.insidetoronto.com/community-story/7388734-fairview-library-s-lgbtq-youth-drop-in-program-hosts-prom/)

In Toronto most LGBTQ+ organizations are located downtown, so the group makes an effort to get all those organizations to come out to a more suburban branch and do satellite programming or guest speaking engagements where they talk about their organizations, so that all those that cannot travel downtown or that never even knew they existed can be better connected.

youbelong2

This type of programming can take a long time to get off the ground – facilitators need to build trust in youth. It can be hard for word to get around since advertising can be tricky, and it’s important not to “out” youth or put them in unsafe situations.  But after a year the group has see a huge increase in stats –   almost 20 youth came out to the Queer Prom. As for all teen programming attendance can be up and down, but the group went from zero youth to 7 consistent members, and many more come in and out. You Belong really is a platform for youth to feel safe, connect with other youth just like them and be better educated on topics that relate to them.  Mentorship is key, and participants have really found the guest speakers to be inspiring.

The facilitator always starts each session with a round table introduction, including preferred pronouns, and giving teens a chance to talk about how their week has been, and their ups and downs.  Then they move on to a group discussion – sometimes they’ll talk about something going on in the world, or something closer to home that concerns them.  Then they start to plan or prep for an event or program.  Here and there they add fun things like field trips and parties.

youbelong3

Group facilitator Sepideh  has very kindly and generously offered to answer any questions library staff might have to help libraries in other provinces start their own LGBTQ+ youth groups, saying

“Let me know if you have any questions and if I can help in any other way. I commend you in BC for starting up programs like this and taking the initiative to take on this challenge.  As difficult it may be with many obstacles it is so rewarding and so very much necessary. I hope one day programs of this nature are as common place as any other programs that librarians conduct.”

A massive thank you to Sepideh for sharing this valuable information!

For more information on You Belong, visit Sepideh’s post on the American Library Association’s Programming Librarian blog.

Does your library offer LGBTQ+ programs for youth, seniors, or any other demographic! Sharing is caring, so help your colleagues across the province better serve their patrons by sharing your knowledge and experiences!

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Public Library QSA / LGBTQ+ Clubs for Youth

Thinking about starting a Queer/Straight Alliance or LGBTQ+ club for youth at your public library? Here are just a few public libraries across North America who are offering similar programs, and might be great resources and contacts for further information.

Do you know of a great program we missed? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add it to the list!

You Belong @ Your Library: LGBTQ+ & Allies Youth Group – Toronto Public Library

Have you always wanted to be an ambassador for equality and empowerment in your community? Come join us to celebrate the unique and diverse LGBTQ+ youth of our community. In this WEEKLY youth alliance we will engage, lead and impact in inspiring ways in our library. We will host one creative LGBTQ+ guest speaker every month. You will get the opportunity along with a team of youth just like you to plan for the event, create displays, design flyers and promote these amazing LGBTQ+ events.

Get involved and let’s make a difference!

Queer Straight Alliance – Surrey Libraries

This program is for teens ages 13-19.

If you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning, two-spirited, or an ally, this program is for you.

Come join us for games, crafts, movie nights, and discussions! Network with other Gay-Straight Alliances in the Surrey area. This will be a safe, positive, and friendly space. Snacks included.

Library QSA – Prince George Public Library

The Library QSA is a safe space for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two-Spirited, Queer, Questioning, Straight teens and teens with LGBTQ families. Teen friends and allies are welcome. Open to all people in grades 8-12 in Prince George.

Community QSA – Lethbridge Public Library (Alberta)

Looking for a safe space?  Want to support LGBTQA rights?

In partnership with The MAT and OUTreach, the library is now hosting a monthly Queer Straight Alliance meeting on the last Wednesday of every month.  The meetings are open to anyone ages 16-21.

We meet in the Community Meeting Room of the Main Branch at 7:00pm.

You can also connect with the group on Facebook.

Rainbow Community – Longview Public Library (Washington State)

Rainbow Community is an inclusive and safe group for LGBTQ+ teens and allies. Hang and be yourself! We have games and craft supplies available and occasionally show movies, host guest speakers, and have parties.

Rainbow Community meets every Monday the library is open in the library auditorium.

 

Stonewall Book Award Winners 2017

stonewall book award logo

The winners of the 2017 ALA Stonewall Book Awards were announced at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago, and the list of winners is truly inspirational!

Barbara Gittings Literature Award

Desert Boys, by Chris McCormick (New York: Picador); ISBN: 9781250075505

Israel Fishman Nonfiction Award

How to Survive a Plague: The inside story of how citizens and science tamed AIDS, by David France (New York: Alfred A. Knopf); ISBN: 9780307700636

Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award

Stonewall Honor Books in Literature

  • Beautiful gravity: a novel, by Martin Hyatt (New York: ANTIBOOKCLUB); ISBN: 9780997592306
  • Dig, by Bryan Borland (Fairfax, Virginia: Stillhouse Press); ISBN: 9780990516989
  • Guapa, by Saleem Haddad (New York: Other Press); ISBN: 9781590517697
  • Hide: a novel, by Matthew Griffin (New York: Bloomsbury USA); ISBN: 9781632863386

Stonewall Honor Books in Non-Fiction

Stonewall Honor Books in Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Robin Stevenson is a B.C.-based author who has been interviewed here on the blog before, and we’re beyond thrilled for her! Congratulations, Robin, on this well deserved award!!

You can also read Rick Riordin’s moving acceptance speech here.

Introducing Your New Co-Chairs!

Hello wonderful group members!

If you are subscribed to the group’s listserv you will know that there are two new Co-Chairs, Amara Charters (myself) and Lindsay Russell. We would like to take this opportunity to introduce ourselves:

18673186_10155313139451798_4603409787857854048_oAmara Charters is a queer femme born in Vancouver and currently living in New Westminster. She has worked as a Library Technician for the Vancouver Public Library since January 2015, specializing in children’s and teens services (specifically programming and reader’s advisory). Her favourite part of her job is interacting with people and helping connect them with the resources and information that they need.

In her down time, Amara likes to embroider (she even has an Etsy shop), watch Netflix, and (of course) read. Her career goal is to work primarily with kids and their caregivers in the library. She was probably a social worker in another life.

unnamedHi everyone! I’m Lindsay, one of the new co-conveners of this group. I’m a Library Technician working at the Port Moody Public Library, doing everything from shelving, to circulation, to working on the information desk. I’m also currently working on my BA in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at SFU, en route to eventually getting my MLIS.

After spending my young teen years desperately (and unsuccessfully) seeking out any LGBTQ+ books, I finally read my first YA book with a bisexual character at the ripe old age of 22 (Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith if you’re curious). That has since stoked a fiery passion for any and all LGBTQ+ books, especially YA and children’s. I am thrilled by the boom of diversity that has been happening in YA books, especially as they explore more nuanced sexualities and gender identities.

When I have any free time I like to play board games and tabletop games, watch TV shows, and lift weights.

You can find our contact information on the BCLA page for the group. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, ideas, or comments! We are both excited to work with everyone and are looking forward to coming up with and implementing ideas.

Five to Follow – LGBTQ Book Blogs You Should be Following

If you’re looking for great recommendations to share with your patrons, add to your collection, or simply enjoy yourself, book blogs are a fantastic resource to explore. Here are just a handful of the many amazing LGBTQ-themed book blogs that have taken the internet by storm. Be sure to check them out, and let us know which book blogs you love to follow!

I’m Here, I’m Queer, What the Hell Do I Read?

If you work with or support queer young people, or simply want to improve the diversity of your YA collection, this is definitely the blog for you. Positive, respectful, supportive and inclusive, “it’s for teens (queer or not), for librarians, for teachers, for booksellers, for people with teens in their lives and for anyone interested in YA books with GLBTQ characters and themes. What books are already out there? What’s new? Your answers are here.”

LGBTQ Reads

This carefully curated collection of LGBTQ+ titles spans the whole gamut of queer literature, from picture books to adult selections, but with an emphasis on Young Adult / New Adult fiction, and is maintained by YA author Dahlia Adler.

The Lesbrary

The Lesbrary focuses on lesbian/bisexual books, with a dedicated and diverse group of reviewers providing feedback on a wide variety of titles celebrating literature by and about queer women.

Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian

OK, we might be a bit biased here (Casey is one of our awesome group members), but if you’re looking for queer book reviews and recommendations with a Canadian focus, this is definitely the blog for you.

Gay YA

As the name suggests, GayYA.org is dedicated to everything LGBTQIA+ in YA! Its mission “is to empower authors to write LGBTQIA+ characters, help ensure that what’s being published contains positive and affirming representation, and enable all teens to find themselves on the page! We pursue these goals with things like sharing best practices for librarians and teachers on how to get LGBTQIA+ YA books into the hands of teens, critiquing problematic narratives, and holding space for authors to talk about writing LGBTQIA+ characters.” Sounds good to us!

What are some of your favourite LGBTQ+ book blogs?

#DiverseKidLit Blog Hop

For school and public librarians, blogs can be a great way to discover new diverse children’s materials. The #diversekidslit book-sharing meme, founded by Katie, the teacher behind the amazing book blog The Logonauts, is a fantastic resource for staff looking to diversify their collections, and connect their patrons with great books.

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds. While not specifically focused on LGBTQ+ materials, the meme often includes books covering these themes.

Participants in the meme are encouraged to support the diverse blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three other blogs, and by following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. You can spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

DiverseKidLit
DiverseKidLit

The hope is that the #diversekidlit community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors!

Upcoming Themes

Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. But if you’re interested, you can start planning now …

  • Out of respect for everyone’s increased summer busyness, there will only be one hop each month for June (3rd), July (1st), and August (5th).  Twice-monthly hops will return in September.
  • The theme for the June hop (3rd) will be global books. Please share your favorite diverse books that take place in countries other than your own, and travel the world this summer!

#DiverseKidLit is hosted by a great team of book bloggers:

Katie @ The Logonauts
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Becky @ Franticmommmy
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Carolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Gauri @ Kitaab World
an online bookstore for South Asian children’s books, toys and games
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestInstagram

Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Jane @ Rain City Librarian
Blog / Twitter / Instagram

Marjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Mia @ Pragmatic Mom
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Myra @ Gathering Books
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Shoumi Sen, Author of Toddler Diaries
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

The #diversekidlit Pinterest board highlights a wide range of amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children’s Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!

Connect with great bloggers, learn about fantastic materials, and help spread the love for diverse children’s books with the #diversekidlit book-sharing meme!