GSA partners with Forsyth Library for Rainbow Read-In

BY JESSALYN KIRCHHOFF

On Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) is partnering with Forsyth Library to host the first-ever Rainbow Read-In. The event will take place in the South Study Area as well as Zoom for those who can’t make it to campus. 

Digital Curation Librarian and GSA Faculty Sponsor Mary Elizabeth Turner spoke about the new and upcoming event. 

“Although the Rainbow Read-In is the first event of its kind at Forsyth Library, a read-in is a common type of library event that is usually used to highlight various diverse communities,” Turner said.

This particular read-in will highlight the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community by showcasing works by LGBTQ+ authors. 

One of Turner’s favorite LGBTQ+ authors is C.J. Janovy and her book, No Place Like Home: Lessons in Activism from LGBT Kansas. 

“This book is so great because it shows the rich history of LGBTQ+ activism right here in Kansas. So many people think of Kansas as this place where the LGBTQ community is still in the closet,” Turner said. “This book dispels that myth and I think that it’s an important read for those who feel like there’s no place for them here in Kansas.”

Turner then went on to explain how this event was created, mentioning the LGBTQ+ Leadership Symposium hosted by Forsyth Library a few weeks ago where one of the presenters from UMKC talked about their successes with a Rainbow Read-in. 

“My colleague Claire Nickerson, who is also a member of the Forsyth Library Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, proposed the idea of having our own Rainbow Read-in,” Turner said. 

From there, the Forsyth Library DEI Committee decided to roll with the idea. With the leadership of committee chair Heather VanDyne, the event was pieced together. 

Turner expands on the creation of the event by touching on the main purpose of this activity, to bring students into the library and to show them both the diversity of the collection as well as the diversity of the faculty and students. 

“Events like these help bring visibility to the LGBTQ+ community on campus as well as showing the diversity within that community. It’s all about creating an environment where every student can see themselves reflected in the library collection,” Turner said.

She continues by explaining how this event is impactful to both faculty and students alike. 

“We have so many faculty and students who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community and events like this help provide a space where they can visibly be who they are,” she said. “Many of our students are coming from areas where maybe there isn’t a visible LGBTQ+ community. It is important to provide the opportunity to find that community in a safe and meaningful way.”

According to Turner, FHSU has a supportive LGBTQ+ community, but they want to work on becoming more visible. 

“Visibility helps with acceptance,” Turner said. “Going to school at an institution that embraces diversity helps our students become better global citizens.”

While there are currently many challenges for LGBTQ+ students, GSA and Forsyth Library, as well as a multitude of others, are working to address these adversities in a positive way. 

Turner is hopeful for the future of the LGBTQ+ community at FHSU. 

“Every small step matters and while it’s not perfect, I feel that the administration, the faculty, and the student body here at FHSU ultimately want to create a positive experience for our students.”

Turner invites everyone to join the event and sign up for a ten-minute slot to read excerpts written by LGBTQ+ authors. Both online and in-person readers are welcome. 

More information about the event, GSA or Forsyth Library can be found by emailing Turner at medowning@fhsu.edu

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