‘Students start coming out’: ‘Rainbow library’ program pushes LGBTQ content to kids as young as 5

(Daily Caller News Foundation) – The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a nationally known LGBTQ activist organization, uses its “Rainbow Library” program to teach kids…

(Daily Caller News Foundation) – The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a nationally known LGBTQ activist organization, uses its “Rainbow Library” program to teach kids about “they/them” pronouns and push books on gender identity and sexual orientation in the classroom, according to a video unearthed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Launched in 2019 by a third-grade teacher, GLSEN’s “Rainbow Library” program, which provides “LGBTQ+ affirming K-12 text sets,” is in 5,800 schools and libraries across 31 states, according to a 2022-2023 school year request form. The initiative makes books and resources on transgenderism and sexual orientation available to children as young as 5, according to a GLSEN 2021 recorded online workshop on the initiative. 

“The Rainbow Library, we send LGBTQ+ affirming books to schools and libraries for free along with additional GLSEN resources,” Michael Rady, the Rainbow Library Program manager, said in the 2021 workshop. “We have four different grade ranges for the books that we send out: K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. We put a major emphasis on books that center the voices of trans and nonbinary people as well as books that attend to the voices of BIPOC [black, indigenous, people of color] LGBTQ+ people.”

The initiative aims to satisfy “the existing need for LGBTQ+ affirming books among young readers” and connect students to “existing local and national LGBTQ supports” such as Pride centers and health clinics, the workshop showed. Inside each book provided through the Rainbow Library program is a link to GLSEN’s website, which has resources for LGBTQ “affirming” centers in each state.

A Rainbow Library box includes excerpts from GLSEN’s “safe space” book, which includes a document detailing “what to do if a student comes out to you,” the workshop showed. The excerpt instructs educators that if a student tells them they are gay or transgender to keep the conversation “confidential” and determine if the child is supported by adults in their life, possibly referring to their parents.

“We hear time and time again, especially in places where there really are not that many LGBTQ+ supports for youth already, including more rural locations, including more conservative areas, that when a teacher or a librarian rolls out the Rainbow Library in their location, students start coming out to them,” Rady said in the video. “Right? ‘Cause they see that adult as someone they can trust. So we have this guidance so that Rainbow Library recipient has the language and tools they need in order to best support that student.”

An elementary teacher in Maryland who implemented the Rainbow Library program in their classroom noted that after reading her class “Peanut Goes For The Gold,” a story about a nonbinary guinea pig who uses they/them pronouns, her students asked why the pig used “they/them” instead of “his/her,” leading to a classroom discussion about gender-neutral pronouns, the workshop showed. A middle school librarian in Missouri reported to GLSEN that since implementing the program, students have been asking for specific LGBTQ books, including one student who asked for a book about “a young lesbian girl.”

Some examples of the books included in the Rainbow Library, according to the 2021 workshop, appear to be “When Aidan Became A Brother,” a picture book about a young girl who decides she is transgender, “I Am Jazz,” a children’s book about a boy who knew he was transgender when he was 2 years old, and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” a memoir about the experience of a black queer boy growing up which describes graphic sexual encounters.

During a forum on the Rainbow Library program, one teacher encouraged other educators to incorporate GLSEN resources into their lessons, even if it is not a part of their school district’s approved curriculum, the workshop showed.

“It is easy to put it in there without making it a specific lesson on LGBTQ history and there is a lot of LGBTQ history that parallels history,” the teacher told other educators. “In government we got Mr. [Pete] Buttegieg now, an openly gay man with a husband and now a family. You can incorporate that into history lessons, government lessons.”

The teacher advised his colleagues seeking to implement the Rainbow Library program to “be aware” of the climate of the community and school before implementing LGBTQ lessons, the workshop showed.

“By having that bookshelf in your room with books about gay students, gay young people, developing your own library in your own classroom. It is frustrating, it is disappointing the Rainbow Library isn’t here, but Amazon, Bookmans, a lot of the used bookstores I spend a fortune at lately, and going and buying these books and putting them out there for the kids to grab. It’s not hard and you can do it, I guess I want to say, you can do it under the radar without drawing a lot of attention to yourself,” the teacher said during the workshop. “I would encourage you to try and if you get slapped down, you get slapped down. You apologize and you move forward.”

GLSEN has recently come under fire for its 10-year partnership with Target after it was revealed that the retail corporation was selling LGBTQ Pride merchandise that includes “tuck-friendly” swimsuits. Target has donated at least $2.1 million to the organization.

GLSEN did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.