A new LGBT book club kicked off Sept. 25 at Weber State University. Karlee Berezay, the LGBT advocate at the Center for Diversity and Unity, said the club decided to focus on LGBT-themed children’s books for its first meeting.
“People can come along and read stories that speak of the experiences of LGBT people, and LGBT can see their experiences in literature,” Berezay said. She said she picked children’s books due to the taboo nature of children’s books with LGBT themes.
“I feel like even a lot of allies and supporters of LGBT community are still a little hesitant to support children’s books having the themes,” Berezay said. She added that this hesitation might be largely due to the misconception that talking about LGBT themes is talking about sex. “When you’re talking about LGBT, you’re talking about love, you’re talking about relationships.”
The club read two books aimed at children: “And Tango Makes Three” and “King and King.”
“And Tango Makes Three” is based on two male penguins at the New York City Zoo that were observed practicing mating rituals together. It was the most challenged book from 2006 to 2008, according to the American Library Association. It dropped to No. 2 in 2009 and regained the top spot in 2010.
Elaina Erickson, an English major at WSU, said she liked the way the books showed same-sex relationships as equal to heterosexual relationships.
“The ending was perfect,” she said. “At the end they go to bed just like everyone else.”
“King and King,” originally written in Dutch, is a story about a prince who falls in love with another prince while searching for a princess. The book has a happily-ever-after ending.
These books are aimed at children growing up with same-sex parents, to help them deal with the marginalization they may feel at school.
“There are kids who are in these families that have two dads or two moms, and it’s important for them to see this reflected in their books,” Berezay said.
Shaun Conner, English instructor and continuing student at WSU, talked about feelings of marginalization increasing for LGBT youth in high school.
“In a high school setting, everyone talks about their first crush, their first kiss, except for that kid who is gay, then it is considered wildly inappropriate for a high school setting.”
Berezay also decided to begin the children’s books to make these stories accessible for people to just come and listen. In the future, the club will have other books to read and discuss, covering a variety of target age groups. The Center for Diversity and Unity will have a limited number of books to give away to students interested in participating in next month’s discussion. The books will be available on a first-come-first-served basis.
Berezay said a student doesn’t have read the whole book to participate, but students should read enough of it in order to have an discussion about it.
In addition to the book club, the new LBGT Resources Lounge will have its grand opening today.
“Everyone is different,” Erickson said. “You can’t walk around in a bubble.”