SAN PEDRO, Calif. – Books are a gateway into someone else’s mind and perspective for San Pedro High School senior, Kassandra Lujan. Being able to read LGBTQ books freely at school is a right Lujan believes will help her understand what her friends have gone through and what they might be going through now.
“I think reading this book will mean a lot to me because I’ll learn the process she had to go through to come out, how hard it was and just to understand her more,” Lujan said.
While Lujan does not identify as LGBTQ, she said, it’s important for everyone to support others who are.
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“My Nina is gay, my uncle is gay and a lot of my friends are gay. I know it’s hard for a lot of them to come out and they recently, barely, came out,” Lujan said.
Students like Lujan are part of San Pedro High School’s Gay Straight Alliance club. The club’s founder, English teacher David Crowley, created the nation’s first all LGBTQ library in a classroom with the help of the MJ Project and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Rotary Club.
Books with gender nonconformity and LGBTQ themes were some of the most challenged books to be banned from libraries or schools in 2018, according to the American Library Association. But Crowley’s newest Pride Library featuring more than 100 LGBTQ fiction, nonfiction and history books are hoping to change that.
“It’s so important that students who are so often marginalized in society and in school, have a space where they can see themselves and in this classroom library over here, this Pride Library, when they open a book it’s going to be a mirror," Crowley said.
It is a window to learn more about what others experience when coming out for students like Lujan.
“I hope it just shows people like the environment. Like this community is safe enough to like have these books and to like you feel safe about being LGBTQ,” Lujan said.
It is a growing movement in Crowley’s classroom, that Lujan hopes will give all students a chance to better understand each other, one book at a time.