News from Allyson Bogie, the OLC’s new School Library Partnerships Manager:
Gender Nation is a nonprofit organization based in Southern California that donates sets of 15 LGBTQIA+ affirming picture books to elementary school libraries. They have already donated to many districts in Southern CA, and in May they donated to nine Bay Area districts, including to all the elementary libraries in Oakland Unified.
Schmian Evans, the OUSD LGBTQ+ Student Support Coordinator, coordinated the donation with Gender Nation. The OLC’s School Library Partnerships program will receive the books before they go out to schools and volunteers will process them through our library book donation and processing project to get them shelf-ready for the school library.
Why are these books important?
All over the United States, and even here in California, inclusive books are being challenged. Book challengers are spreading messages of intolerance and discrimination, stating that differences are shameful and that only some people belong. Those who attempt to ban books fear what they don’t understand, and react by rejecting those who are different.
Gender Nation’s book donations send a different message. When a reader sees someone like themself in a book, they can go from feeling like an outsider to feeling included and affirmed.The books teach their readers that differences are normal, special, and are worth celebrating. When children read and talk about the types of books donated by Gender Nation, they gain self-confidence, empathy, and awareness. They grow as people who celebrate and value differences and diversity.
Where will these books go and who will have access to them?
Gender Nation specifically donates books to be added to school libraries. School libraries are safe, welcoming spaces where students are allowed to choose any books that they want. Placing the books from Gender Nation in the school libraries means that all students have open access to the books at school.
Oakland Unified, all participating districts, and the CA Department of Education are sending a clear message by not only accepting but embracing the donations. They are telling their communities that all members are included and celebrated, there is no one way to be, and that people of every gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, and culture are equal and valued.
Oakland is one of nine Bay Area school districts to receive these books, including: Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Fairfield-Suisun, Piedmont, San Francisco, San Mateo-Foster City, and West Contra Costa.