June 13, 2023

NYSUT educators are keeping books in schools, celebrating diverse and inclusive stories

Author: Riley Ackley
Source:  NYSUT Communications
NYSUT educators are keeping books in schools, celebrating diverse and inclusive stories
Caption: At this year's Capital Pride Parade and Festival, NYSUT educators decorated their float with posters of inclusive children’s books. Above, librarian Kristen Majkut shares the background of “This is Our Rainbow,” an anthology for middle-graders featuring stories for every letter of the LGBTQ acronym. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

Amid ongoing battles to ban books in schools and libraries nationwide, our members are taking a stand against censorship and for academic and learning freedom. Recently, a report published by the nonprofit free speech organization, PEN America, found that in the first half of the 2022-23 academic year, book bans increased by 28% from the previous semester.

For school librarian Kristen Majkut, a member of Albany Public School Teachers Association (APSTA), the push to create a welcoming and inclusive learning environment is a mission she feels passionate about. Beyond the school’s library, Majkut advises the Gender and Sexuality Alliance at Albany High School with fellow APSTA member, Tom Vacanti.

New York’s educators have been working tirelessly to ensure that LGBTQ students and educators feel safe in school and that their learning material reflects the diverse society in which we live. Through NYSUT’s LGBTQ Committee, Majkut helped develop a list of children’s books featuring LGBTQ characters.

Books like “This is Our Rainbow” are under attack simply because they acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ people. Family-friendly stories like those in “This is Our Rainbow” are a poignant reminder of the importance of inclusivity, acceptance and self-discovery.

NYSUT’s LGBTQ Committee includes teachers, School-Related Professionals, higher education faculty, retirees, school librarians and school psychologists. The committee aims to educate and to ensure that all LGBTQ members feel safe and welcome in their workplace. For information, visit NYSUT's LGBTQ Committee.