ALBANY, N.Y. Sept. 26, 2019 — The New York State United Teachers LGBTQ Committee will hold the union’s first-ever “Book Tasting” event Friday, Sept. 27, to promote a more LGBTQ-inclusive learning environment for New York students.
Capital Region members of the committee will join with fellow educators, parents and community members from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at NYSUT’s offices, 800 Troy-Schenectady Road in Latham. The “Book Tasting” will offer an opportunity for attendees to read passages from and take home free age-appropriate LGBTQ-inclusive books for students at all levels. The event also will feature a panel discussion and Q&A on transgender issues and the daily challenges of LGBTQ students. Refreshments will be served.
“NYSUT is committed to ensuring that students learn in an inclusive environment,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “Reading is critical to a child’s development, and encouraging all students to read inclusive books can help teach them from an early age the importance of treating everyone with respect.”
The event is modeled after the National Education Association’s Human Rights Campaign Day of Reading in support of transgender and non-binary youth. The NYSUT LGBTQ Committee will provide free copies of the following books to attendees (grade-level in parenthesis):
- “Julian is a Mermaid” by Jessica Love (K-2)
- “It Feels Good to Be Yourself” by Theresa Thorn (3-5)
- “Zenobia July” by Lisa Bunker (middle school)
- “The 57 Bus” by Dashka Slater (high school)
The books were purchased through a grant from former NYSUT Executive Vice President Catalina Fortino, which is earmarked to promote LGBTQ inclusivity across the state.
“This event is about making sure all kids feel safe and welcome in our schools and our communities,” said Sandie Carner-Shafran, a NYSUT LGBTQ Committee and Board of Directors member and teaching assistant with the Saratoga-Adirondack BOCES Employees Association. “It’s important that we as educators provide a safe space for every student.”
“Encouraging our children to read about people of all sexual orientations and gender identities is one way we can start creating more welcoming environments for all,” said Maureen Singer, a NYSUT LGBTQ Committee and the East Greenbush Teachers Association member. “We are so grateful for Catalina’s generosity and NYSUT’s support of our work to help create a more inclusive society.”
The NYSUT LGBTQ Committee includes teachers, school-related professionals, higher education faculty, retirees, school librarians and school psychologists. The committee’s work centers on examining the atmosphere toward LGBTQ people in education and advocating on various issues affecting LGBTQ educators and the LGBTQ community at large.
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.