As Extremists Push Book Bans Across the Country, 25,000 Students, Educators and Parents Will Participate in National Day of Reading by HRC's Welcoming Schools Program Uplifting Transgender and Non-Binary Stories
Now in its 8th year, event is cosponsored by the National Education Association and American Association of School Librarians
WASHINGTON - February 16, 2023 -- Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation - the educational arm of the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization - hosts its eighth annual "Welcoming Schools National Day of Reading: A Celebration of Stories Supporting Transgender and Non-Binary Youth (formerly called Jazz and Friends: National Day of School and Community Readings)," an opportunity for thousands of students, educators, parents, elected officials and allies to join in solidarity with transgender and non-binary students. The readings today are expected to draw over 25,000 participants across more than 300 locations. The Welcoming Schools National Day of Reading is sponsored by the HRC Foundation as well as the National Educational Association (NEA), the country's largest professional employee organization, representing 3 million educators across the U.S and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), representing over 7,000 school librarians in the U.S., Canada and abroad.
"All students deserve to see themselves represented in the books they read, and we are proud to play a role in encouraging the representation of LGBTQ+ youth," said Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign."As we are met with an onslaught of attacks against the transgender and non-binary communities, these readings are more important than ever. We need to show students that they are not alone, and we need to encourage communities to speak out against hateful rhetoric while enabling our youth to show up as their amazing, authentic selves."
Welcoming Schools National Day of Reading takes place to honor the solidarity shown by community members when an elementary school student came out as transgender and her school educated their students by reading I Am Jazz, an autobiographical picture book about a transgender girl, which attracted a crowd of over 600 people wanting to learn. Since that time, HRC Foundation's Welcoming Schools program has compiled book lists for all age groups and chooses a few books to spotlight every year. Communities participating this year have been encouraged to read the following books:
- This is Our Rainbow, edited by Nicole Melleby and Katherine Locke
- When Aidan Became a Brother, by Kyle Lukoff
- My Rainbow, by DeShanna Neal and Trinity Neal
- Red: A Crayon's Story, by Michael Hall
Just in the past year, over 300 discriminatory bills were introduced in legislatures across the country - an unfortunate milestone marking the greatest number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in recent history. One of the most notable trends was a resurgence of curriculum censorship and "Don't Say LGBTQ+" bills that turn back the clock and restrict teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ issues and other marginalized communities in their classrooms. Across the country, 70 curriculum censorship bills were filed and 7 passed into law, including Florida's infamous "Don't Say Gay or Trans" law.
"The Welcoming Schools program plays an important role in ending bias and bullying in our schools, and has been proven to improve student success," said Cheryl Greene, Human Rights Campaign Welcoming Schools Director. "The books students read are part of the classroom experience and should be as diverse as the children reading them. When we give students an opportunity to see themselves and their classmates represented, we teach them to embrace diversity and inclusion in all facets of their lives."
The event is produced by HRC Foundation's Welcoming Schools program, the nation's most comprehensive, bias-based bullying prevention program in the nation to provide LGBTQ and gender inclusive professional development training, lesson plans, booklists and resources specifically designed for Pre K - 12 educators and youth-serving professionals.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people. Through its programs, the HRC Foundation seeks to make transformational change in the everyday lives of LGBTQ+ people, shedding light on inequity and deepening the public's understanding of LGBTQ+ issues, with a clear focus on advancing transgender and racial justice. Its work has transformed the landscape for more than 15 million workers, 11 million students, 1 million clients in the adoption and foster care system and so much more. The HRC Foundation provides direct consultation and technical assistance to institutions and communities, driving the advancement of inclusive policies and practices; it builds the capacity of future leaders and allies through fellowship and training programs; and, with the firm belief that we are stronger working together, it forges partnerships with advocates in the U.S. and around the globe to increase our impact and shape the future of our work.