KPS Responds to Concerns about LGBTQ Books
No Books Have Been Removed from Libraries
Kalamazoo Public Schools values the diversity of its community and strives to support all students and their families. Recent news reports and social media posts have implied that KPS has pulled books with LGBTQ+ themes from its libraries, and it does not include LGBTQ+ literature in its offering to students. That is not correct. KPS has not removed books with LGBTQ+ themes from its libraries.
Do KPS schools have any books with LGBTQ+ themes?
Every KPS school building has a library. The district library program includes 12 LGBTQ+ titles in its elementary school libraries, almost 60 at the middle schools, and more than 250 in its high school libraries. In addition, library staff have been trained on how to work with these materials and to assist students.
What is the diverse classroom libraries project?
The diverse classroom library project, which launched in the fall of 2018, was designed specifically to increase student access to books by and about people of color, because more than 60 percent of the district’s student population comes from communities of color. These collections of books were placed in elementary school classrooms to give children an opportunity to read more books with racially diverse characters and authors.
Were LGBTQ+ books pulled from the diverse classroom libraries project?
No. The diverse classroom libraries project had a narrow focus to increase the racial and ethnic diversity represented in books in classrooms. There was an incident in which a book, from the pool of books under consideration for inclusion in the classroom library project and featuring a transgender character, was read by a teacher to her third-grade class. Some parents raised concerns about the book being read to their young children. That book was not included in the classroom libraries, because it did not meet the basic criteria for that project — it was not written by nor was it about a person of color.
What are the next steps planned to help students and staff understand this complex issue?
Many community members have contacted the district with concerns regarding the situation. KPS officials have already met with a representative from OutFront Kalamazoo, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, about providing training and resources to help KPS support its students. District representatives have also connected with experts at Western Michigan University to discuss LGBTQ+ literature. The diverse classroom library project is an ongoing effort, and the next phase will include expansion to middle schools and to other areas of diversity, such as LGBTQ+ themes on an age-appropriate basis.