By Saara Itkonen
On September 20th, many of us at the library were distressed to hear of (or, in the case of some of us, witness) the angry crowd that was protesting policies ensuring LGBTQ2IA+ inclusivity in schools. In a community as small as ours, it hurts to see people that we know gather in hateful opposition to our community’s schools trying to be kinder and more inclusive of all kids. Instead of being curious and trying to learn more about the experiences of kids and families that don’t always feel included in our schools, they’d rather yell at teachers and principals who are just trying to do their job and at students who are just trying to be themselves.
As a librarian, I immediately grieve all the ways that bad actors have whipped up crowds like this with their disinformation online. According to antihate.ca (a non-profit that monitors hate groups in Canada), the protest was “supported by a big tent of far-right and conspiratorial groups, including Christian Nationalists, COVID-19 conspiracy theorists, sovereign citizens, and anti-public education activists”. The way this happens, as we know, is through algorithms that feed people, viewing slightly extreme content, ever more extreme content which can then radicalize and push people further and further away from reality, and more towards hate. These “hate” clicks make money for tech companies through ads on those videos/content making effective moderation unprofitable for companies to do.
I understand that it can be easy and appealing when you don’t know or understand something, when you feel scared or uncertain about the world, to follow online people with very confident ideas claiming to provide you with the certainty you need. But critical thinking skills are essential both online and off because not all information is trustworthy information (take it from us librarians!) and the truth is always a lot messier and more complex than these bad actors would have you believe.
LGBTQ2IA+ people who are much more likely than the average person to endure bigotry, abuse, and violence will give you better information about the support they need than any of the people hurling abuse at them. I’m so thankful that schools are working to make these kids feel more accepted and understood than they were when I was little.
I’m also thankful that more and more LGBTQ2IA+ people are writing their stories down and at the library we have many of them to share with you. Here are just a few of the titles available for you to borrow from our library today:
1. Growing Up Trans: In Our Own Words ed. by Dr. Lindsay Herriot and Kate Fry (e-book)
What does it mean to be young and transgender today? Growing Up Trans shares stories, essays, art and poetry created by trans youth aged 11 to 18. In their own words, the works illustrate the trans experience through childhood, family and daily life, school, their bodies and mental health. Growing Up Trans came out of a series of workshops held in Victoria, British Columbia, to bring together trans youth from across the country with mentors in the community.(from Goodreads)
2. Before I Had the Words: On Being a Transgender Young Adult by Skylar Kergil (e-book)
As humorous as it is heartbreaking and as informative as it is entertaining, this memoir provides an intimate look at the experience of transitioning from one gender to another.(from Goodreads)
3. Super-Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye (Adult Graphic Novel)
A highly personal collection documenting the early months of artist Julia Kaye’s gender transition. Julia’s poignant, relatable comics honestly depict her personal ups and downs while dealing with the various issues involved in transitioning—from struggling with self-acceptance and challenging societal expectations, to moments of self-love and joy. Super Late Bloomer both educates and inspires, as Julia faces her difficulties head-on and commits to being wholly, authentically who she was always meant to be. (from Goodreads)
4. Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon (ebook)
Spoken word poet Alok Vaid-Menon challenges the world to see gender not in black and white, but in full color. Taking from their own experiences as a gender-nonconforming artist, they show us that gender is a malleable and creative form of expression. The only limit is your imagination. (from Goodreads)
5. Beyond Magenta: Transgender and Non-BinaryTeens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin (ebook)
A groundbreaking work of LGBT literature takes an honest look at the life, love, and struggles of transgender teens. (from Goodreads)
Visit crestonlibrary.com to view the most up-to-date program and events listings at the library.
Saara Itkonen is Library Director at the Creston Valley Public Library