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The Art of Access: Circulating History and Improving Visibility

By Forrest Evans

Circulation is currency to a library and also reflects a community’s needs, and interests. Yet, many educators still struggle to provide a proper representation of great Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and LGBTQ+ literature, and resources, to readers. Even during the global pandemic and amongst any recent racial, and social, injustices— educators are looking for resources to support their readers. Educators, teachers, librarians, and school administrators often struggle to provide a non-biased circulation of literature, without including specific or implicated bias. It is vital for little minds and scholars to gain a greater understanding of communities and history; in addition to, having a balance of information and have an access of history and information. Literature is a fulcrum, providing any reader a wealth, and balance, of information. Truly, reading can take any reader anywhere— and elevate their thinking.

Firstly, consider whether you will have or need to gain support from your school’s administration, regardless if parental concerns arise regarding specific BIPOC or LGBTQ+ topics. Administrative support is essential to properly support classroom needs and school objectives. Secondly, determine whether or not reading BIPOC and LGBTQ+ inclusive books is the place to start in developing a welcoming environment or in the groundwork in your school community.


These two essential areas to consider can help any educator preparing or maintaining neutral learning environments for readers. These same neutral learning environments are essential for little minds to easily navigate difficult situation, emotions and their interests—skills they can take can practice and master outside of classroom. Also, prepare yourself to answer students' questions, and those of their parental guidance. Some educators also raise concerns like: What language to use, How to approach this situation, what is the best way to support their interests, and not make the reader feel hyper-visual? Family Life Education is essential to build a better communicate and support little minds and scholars. The goal of Family Life Education is to teach specific skills and knowledge areas to family members across the lifespan. FLA also fosters a positive individual and family development so families can function successfully. The importance of discussing family diversity with BIPOC, non-POC and LGBTQ+ parents ultimately combats issues that plague more families than expected. Utilize handbooks and guidance like Best Practices in Creating and Delivering LGBTQ Cultural Competnecy Tranings for Health and Social Service Agencies, 36 Resources to Help With Complex Questions About Race and Racism In America, and others like SAMHSA’s Answering Your Child’s Tough Questions. For additional titles, check out this list of titles: 1. Controversy and Diversity: LGBTQ Titles in Academic Library Youth Collections by Virginia Kay Williams and Nancy Deyoe 2. Encouraging Meaningful Parent/Educator Collaboration by the Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education 3. DisCrit—Disability Studies and Critical Race Theory in Education by David J. Connor, Beth A. FerriSubini, and A. Annamma 4. Unconditional: A Guide to Loving and Supporting Your LGBTQ Child (Book for Parents of a Gay or Transgender Child) by Telaina Eriksen 5. Celebrate Your Body 2: The Ultimate Puberty Book for Preteen and Teen Girls by Dr. Carrie Leff and Dr. Lisa Klein

One way to make children feel welcome in a classroom, or any neutral learning environment, is to ensure that all kinds of families, and communities, are portrayed in the books that are available in the classroom, and in the library. A library’s collection reflects its community, or student’s needs. It is important for children to see their reality reflected to them through the literature that is available and used in classrooms. Historically, many of the books written for children that include two moms or dads focus on a problem that children have encountered because they have two moms or dads. Yet, it is essential to provide examples of families in many variations—providing readers insight and options on how they can navigate various, similar or identical situations. Literature is a great tool to support the rehabilitation anyone’s mental health. Support readers as they explore which resources best fit their needs. For example, if teasing of a student with BIPOC and LGBTQ+ parents/guardians has already been an issue, there are resources to assist guardians and educators with literature like, My Rainbow by DeShanna and Trinity Neal. There are other resources for middle grades and older scholars like Black Flamingo by Dead Atta that may, also, support readers on their journey of healing. As scholars grow older they can have more discussions about what they have read and can utilize literature as a guide. By providing a wealth of information, educators are expanding multicultural education to include family diversity increases visibility and combats issues of representation. Utilize BIPOC and LGBTQ+ resources and literature to provide a continuous circulation and access to a wealth of knowledge. As readers articulate their strengths, weaknesses and interests, educators are able to support their needs with great literature. Similar to the Black Experience, Black Literature is a collective narrative. Each experience, story, and voice is essential to gaining a greater understanding of cultural narratives. Black Literature is an umbrella term that includes so many narratives from African American, African, Caribbean, Bi-racial narratives, and so much more. Have a colorful exploration of the world and history around you with Black Literature. One of the greatest joys of being an educator is supporting the research, healing and educational needs of readers, looking to explore cultural narratives and marginalized communities. BIPOC and LGBTQ+ resources and literature can provide a wealth of information and may best support a reader’s needs.

Author Information Forrest, Favorite Librarian forrest@favoritelibrarian.com Bio

Forrest Evans is an Atlanta-based, licensed librarian working at a special research library, solely dedicated to African American history and literature. Evans has worked in various libraries from Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the south to special collections and television. The avid DC Comic Book collector combats under education, and fights for gender equality when they are not in the library. Their love for reading fuels my passion to circulate Black and Queer Literature, and resources.

The low country native, also known for her published poetry in Pen+Brush, Lavender Review: Lesbian Poetry and Art, TQ Review: A Journal of Trans and Queer Voices, and The Apogee Journal. When the poet is not in the library, they are with their Queer Tribe combating xenophobia or sharing joy. For more information about Evans, visit favoritelibrarian.com or their official social media. Pronouns: She/Her or They/Them


Instagram: @FavoriteLibrarian Twitter: @MsForrestNoGump Website: www.favoritelibrarian.com