In support of Pride Month in June and our commitment to provide access to books and crucial resources across all communities, the Scholastic Possible Fund has committed to a donation of 1,000 books to Pride and Less Prejudice, on the recommendation of our Pride@Scholastic Employee Resource Group. This non-profit organization is focused on providing LGBTQ-inclusive books to Pre-K through third grade classrooms.
Learn more about Pride and Less Prejudice and Scholastic’s donation by reading our interview with Founder Lisa Forman.
How did Pride and Less Prejudice get started?
Having a queer daughter who struggled to come to terms with her sexuality while she was in middle and high school, I’ve often thought about how her childhood could have been more LGBTQ-inclusive. Because my daughter didn’t know any LGBTQ+ people during her childhood, queer representation on TV shows like Glee and Pretty Little Liars was her lifeline, and helped her to figure out and accept her sexuality. But I often wondered: what would have happened if she had LGBTQ-inclusive literature available to her in the classroom or the library?
In the summer of 2019, I spoke to a queer second grade teacher about what LGBTQ+ resources she had used in her classroom, and I began to research what kind of LGBTQ-inclusive books had been published for young children. There were many more than I ever imagined, but I eventually narrowed down the list to 14 books and began to ask some teachers I knew if they would like free LGBTQ-inclusive books for their classroom. I was happy to find many teachers who wanted to use the books, and I felt thrilled at the chance to support these teachers, many of whom did not have the funding from their schools to buy these books themselves. At the same time, I reached out to friends and family and some LGBTQ+ activists and organizations to ask for monetary donations.
That was the very beginning of Pride and Less Prejudice (PLP), which after three and a half years, has raised over $140,000 and sent more than 8,000 books to teachers in over 4,000 classrooms to all 50 U.S. states and eight Canadian provinces.
What is the mission of the nonprofit organization?
The mission of PLP is to promote positive LGBTQ+ representation by providing LGBTQ-inclusive books to preschool through third grade classrooms. We believe that such representation will not only normalize LGBTQ+ identities in classrooms, but it will also foster the support of LGBTQ+ and questioning youth themselves, making them feel more at home in educational spaces. Additionally, it will benefit other children by introducing them to perspectives different from their own. This will result in more empathetic classrooms and compassionate communities for all.
What are the efforts that go into helping educators create inclusive learning environments?
PLP provides multiple resources to educators who want to create inclusive classrooms. Primarily, PLP uses monetary donations and grants to purchase book bundles of LGBTQ-inclusive books, which are sent to teachers from preschool through third grade who have requested these books on our website. These books span many genres and themes, from gender identity and expression to the history of the LGBTQ+ movement, and feature a number of identities and communities, including people of AAPI, Black, South Asian, Hispanic, and Indigenous descent, people with disabilities, and non-binary individuals.
In addition to sending books, we also offer teaching guides for all 62 of the books we have offered since 2019, author read-aloud videos, a “Meet the Author” interview series, and blog posts on LGBTQ+ inclusion, education, and literature. We also offer quarterly professional development workshops for teachers and education professionals that work with students of any age, and have created an online store via Bookshop with recommendations for LGBTQ+ books for children from Pre-K to Young Adult.
Scholastic has committed to donating 1,000 books to Pride and Less Prejudice. How will the books be used to reach educators and students?
We are thrilled to announce that Forever Home: A Dog and Boy Love Story, a Scholastic title by Henry Cole will be one of our 2023-24 featured books. A beautiful black and white picture book, Forever Home is the first wordless LGBTQ-inclusive book we have featured. This book will be sent to preschool through third grade teachers across the U.S. and Canada. We will also create a teacher resource guide to go along with this title for teachers to use in their classrooms, as well as an interactive read aloud guide.
How do you envision the nonprofit organization expanding its impact to more communities?
When I first started PLP, I had many conversations about the age range of children we wanted to serve. While I do believe it’s important to foster acceptance for kids of all ages, as a former preschool music teacher, I felt strongly about focusing on younger children. Young children are like sponges; they are open to learning and being accepting, and they absorb what you teach them. Prejudice is a learned behavior, and we aim to eliminate it from the next generation by focusing on the youngest possible age. That said, we hope to one day have the funds to expand PLP’s mission to include sending books to fourth and fifth grade classrooms, especially since there are so many wonderful titles out there for this age range.
How can people get involved with Pride and Less Prejudice?
In the last week alone, we have received over 400 teacher requests for books, which costs us about $10,000 to fulfill. In order to keep up with the increasing demand, our biggest priority is fundraising. While we accept monetary donations at any time, on June 28, between June 1 and June 28, people can create their own online fundraisers for PLP through National Give Out Day. From October 5 to October 8, we will also host our annual Banned Together virtual action in conjunction with Banned Books Week, where we will have items from authors, celebrities, and a variety of small businesses for sale. Finally, if you know teachers in the U.S. or Canada who would like LGBTQ-inclusive books for their preschool to third grade classrooms, you can have them fill out a request form at https://www.prideandlessprejudice.org/free-books.
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
Pride and Less Prejudice is thrilled to have Scholastic donate 1,000 books to us to help us foster inclusive classrooms. With the increase in book bans nationwide, we need your support now more than ever. We are so happy to have Scholastic partner with us and keep our students reading out loud and reading out proud!