PSHS media center promotes LGBTQIA+, black pride

Ashley Smiley, Staff Writer

The Media Center at South is one of the many places in the building used by students. Known for its open study hall, helpful librarians, and relaxed atmosphere, students enjoy the vast selection of books offered throughout the year.

From graphic novels to Manga to fiction to many other genres and works, the library has a large variety of media to choose from, including a vast selection of LGBTQ+ options.

It’s not easy finding inclusive books for everyone, but South’s librarians do a great job trying to reach all audiences. Not only are there books for the queer community but for people of color as well.

“It’s important for students to see themselves,” Gwen Kuhns, South’s media specialist explains. “If stories are being told about you, you know you aren’t alone and that you matter.”

According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), 59.5% of students at junior highs and high schools in the United States feel unsafe at school because of their sexual identity, and 44.6% of students because of their gender identity. Establishing a healthy environment for kids can help them reach their full learning potential, and the media center has done just that.

According to the New York Times, students today feel the effects of racism in school. The New York Times asked students about their experiences with race for their weekly round-up in 2020. Arfa Hassan from Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn shares her experience.

“I can confidently say that there has not been a single day of my high school career where I don’t feel the limitations of my identity,” Hassan said in the 2020 interview.

“What I want students to take away from the books they read is that they matter, they are loved and special, and that their stories matter,” Kuhns said.

LGBTQ+ books are easily accessible in the media center, marked on the spine with the community’s rainbow pride flag. From two lesbian love interests to a transgender protagonist, there are lots of options to choose from.

Books with black main characters are also easily accessible. The media center displayed numerous books from a variety of genres on the left side of the library during the month of February in honor of Black History Month.

All races and ethnicities are represented in our school library each month. Some diverse books currently featured include ‘What If Its Us’ by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli, which features a gay romance; ‘If I Was Your Girl’ by Meredith Russo, with a transgender protagonist; and “The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person” by Fredrick Joseph, one of the many books the library recommends for Black History Month.

The media center is full of resources for students to educate themselves on things outside of their own world. The librarians do an amazing job at making the stories in our library educational for everyone.