At Project Open Books, our initial goal was simple: to provide free LGBTQIA+ affirming books to anyone who requests one at no cost. We recognized that many LGBTQIA+ youth don’t have access to stories at home or at school in which their identities are well represented.
We began by receiving and fulfilling individual book requests. People from around the country started learning about us online, on social media, and through word of mouth. To this day, we find nothing more rewarding than hearing from someone who has requested a book from our library and expresses their joy and gratitude to finally own and read a book in which they can see themselves. Representation matters.
Since we began, our mission has grown. We will always continue to fulfill individual book requests as our top priority, but we have also started to collaborate with schools, community centers, and summer camps. These collaborations include school book donations, sponsoring book clubs, and facilitating author meet-and-greets.
In our work with educators, librarians, and social workers, we’ve learned more about the continued and growing need for LGBTQIA+ affirming books in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. Teachers reach out to us and share that they have a student who is exploring their gender identity, or has two moms, or wants to dress a certain way. When a teacher has an LGBTQIA+ affirming book on hand to share with these students, it makes them feel much more supported and safe.
In addition to learning from teachers that providing LGBTQIA+ affirming books is the first, big step to creating a more inclusive classroom, some teachers are looking for more classroom resources. Project Open Books is excited to share additional resources to help educators provide the support their classrooms need.
The following are resources compiled from organizations not affiliated with Project Open Books. Many have come to us by recommendation of educators with whom we’ve partnered.
The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people. They also offer a resource center with topics including sexual orientation and gender identity.
GLSEN works to ensure that LGBTQ students are able to learn and grow in a school environment free from bullying and harassment. They have provided A Guide for Trans and Gender Nonconforming Students, offer Inclusive and Affirming Curriculum for LGBTQ students, and have chapters around the United States that support Gay-Straight Alliances and train teachers.
The Human Rights Campaign envisions a world where every member of the LGBTQ+ family has the freedom to live their truth without fear and with equality under the law. They’ve also created a helpful document to support teachers and parents with Defining LGBTQ Terms for Elementary School Students. Their Welcoming Schools program also includes guidance on how to answer students' questions such as “What does Gay mean?”
This YouTube channel offers videos for all ages that can help kids talk through what the letters of LGBTQ mean.
Learning for Justice seeks to be a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements and advance the human rights of all people. They also provide Best Practices for Serving LGBTQ Students.