Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-10-30
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

MOMBIAN LGBTQ-inclusive books, and hope, in rural schools
by Dana Rudolph
2019-10-16

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


LGBTQ students in rural schools are more likely to face bias and discrimination than those in urban and suburban ones, but their schools are also less likely to have LGBTQ-inclusive resources to support them. That's why several recent college graduates launched Hope in a Box last year. The nonprofit donates boxes of LGBTQ-inclusive books to rural public middle and high schools, along with coaching and curriculum guides to help educators use them effectively.

Between 2.9 and 3.8 million LGBTQ people live in rural areas across the country, according to recent estimates from the Movement Advancement Project. LGBTQ students in rural and small-town schools, furthermore, face more hostile school climates than those elsewhere, including biased language, victimization, and anti-LGBTQ school policies and practices, according to GLSEN's latest ( 2017 ) National School Climate Survey. They were also less likely to have LGBTQ-related school resources or supports.

Joe English, founder of Hope in a Box ( HopeInABox.org ) and a 2017 graduate of Yale University, said in a statement about the project's launch, "I know that feeling of isolation and invisibility personally, having grown up in a small, rural town. After college, I returned to my high school to share my experience with my teachers and see how we could make the next generation of students feel more supported." While his teachers saw the need for diverse books and materials to support their LGBTQ students, they felt they didn't have sufficient familiarity with the subject matter or resources to acquire them.

English and his team thus designed a bibliography of 50 books covering a range of time periods, formats, and identities for students ages 12 to 18. This spring, they partnered with 25 rural public schools to pilot "Starter Boxes" of 20 to 30 books from this list, along with supporting multimedia and curriculum guides. The pilot schools are diverse, including a traditional Mormon school in Washington state, low-income schools in rural Vermont and New Jersey, and conservative Southern schools in Tennessee and Alabama, among others.

All the educators they've worked with say they feel better equipped to reach and support LGBTQ students because of Hope in a Box. Almost all ( 90 percent ) believed the project noticeably improved LGBTQ students' emotional well-being within one semester of receiving materials, and 80 percent plan to formally incorporate the materials into their curricula this academic year.

One middle school English teacher who was part of the pilot told them, "Having a character in literature to connect to can make all the difference for some kids who feel alone." And a librarian who serves grades 7 to 12, said, "I see these books constantly checked in and out sort of silently by my students. … By the nature of where a lot of students are in their journey, there hasn't been a lot of open discussion yet, but these books signal to my students that they are safe with me."

GLSEN founder ( and new Lambda Legal CEO ) Kevin Jennings—who was assistant deputy secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools at the U.S. Department of Education under President Obama—was even more blunt, asserting in a statement, "Hope in a Box's work is literally saving lives. When young LGBTQ people see themselves reflected in school curricula, their sense of self and well-being goes up dramatically, and rates of bullying and harassment drop just as dramatically. By providing these resources to schools with little access to them, Hope in a Box is making a life-saving difference for many young people."

The value is for all students, LGBTQ and not. Another high school English teacher told Hope in a Box, "Our small rural district isn't very diverse; it's been incredibly important for us to find creative ways to help students be open-minded and empathetic. I'm so grateful for the guidance and generosity of the Hope In A Box program because it sends our students such an important message: we recognize LGBTQ students and we appreciate them."

One creative writing teacher added, "This library is what lets my students feel comfortable writing about LGBTQ issues and characters in their creative and personal writing."

By the end of the 2019 school year, Hope in a Box aims to support hundreds of rural schools in all 50 states; nearly 200 schools across 35 states have already joined a waitlist. The nonprofit's goal is to help at least half of these schools incorporate the materials into curricula.

A growing number of states ( including California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and Oregon ) are now requiring public school curricula to include information about the history, writings, and contributions of LGBTQ people. Having materials to support that goal accurately and effectively is vital. In states without such requirements, too, the need for guidance and resources is perhaps greater, since there's less motivation for schools to incorporate such works in the curriculum. Either way, Hope in a Box is targeting the schools that have the greatest need—those in under-resourced rural areas.

A similar initiative, the Make It Safe Project ( MakeItSafeProject.org ), was founded in 2011 by then-14-year-old Amelia Roskin-Frazee, an out lesbian student from California. Make It Safe gives free packages of LGBTQ-inclusive books to schools, youth homeless shelters, and other youth-serving institutions, and has distributed them to more than 60 schools and 25 shelters, with more on the way. Roskin-Frazee is currently an undergraduate at Columbia University, and the project is also now offering a writing scholarship to LGBTQ teens.

Projects like these, with the energy of young, queer activists behind them, can make a real difference for other young people. Visit their websites to find out more and learn how you can help, no matter your age.

Dana Rudolph is the founder and publisher of Mombian ( Mombian.com ), a GLAAD Media Award-winning blog and resource directory for LGBTQ parents.


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Halloween unmasks our troubled history with race 2019-10-30 - Halloween is one of this country's favorite yearly activities. Unfortunately, Halloween can be America's scariest, too—especially for those of us seen as costumes ...


Gay News

LETTER Response to hate 2019-10-30 - Dear Editor: God's presence is always reflected in us. As a person of faith, I believe in Jesus Christ. No ...


Gay News

GUEST COLUMN Ignorance and shortsightedness lead us to the Supreme Court 2019-10-02 - We will always find ourselves going back to the courts to fight for inclusion until we place the needs of the most vulnerable ...


Gay News

LETTER Attorneys needed 2019-10-02 - Dear Editor: According to the report "The Justice Gap," low-income Americans receive no or inadequate legal help for 86 percent for ...


Gay News

Activists halt U.S. Conference on AIDS to protest CDC 2019-09-18 - Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) surely saw it coming. Protests are part ...


Gay News

VIEWS Visibility isn't the goal 2019-09-18 - In mid-July, I interviewed non-binary rapper CJ Run. In discussing the coming out of gay country rapper Lil Nas X, Run articulated something ...


Gay News

REELING 2019 The reviews are in 2019-09-17 - Reeling 2019: The 37th Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival will take place Sept. 19-29 at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema and Music Box Theatre. ...


Gay News

VIEWS A straight man's foray into an LGBTQ world 2019-09-04 - My first assignment for Windy City Times looked something like this: I hopped in my car and drove from my white, middle-class, cookie-cutter ...


Gay News

Remembering Michael Bauer, a call to pick up the baton 2019-09-03 - Remarks as prepared for delivery at the memorial service for community leader Mike Bauer, Sept. 3, 2019. I'm here to speak for ...


Gay News

Kinley Preston previews Lips Chicago dinner theater 2019-08-21 - Lips, billed as "the ultimate in drag dining," is locating its fifth location in Chicago. The South Loop venue, opening to the public ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.