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Out on the Shelves campaign celebrates rainbow visibility in libraries

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

InsideOUT is proud to announce the second annual Out on the Shelves campaign week is around the corner: June 17 - 23. The yearly event celebrates the diverse representation of rainbow communities in books, and aims to connect more rainbow young people with stories that represent their identities in positive and affirming ways.

InsideOUT is a national organisation with the vision for all young people of minority sexualities, sexes and genders in Aotearoa to have a sense of safety and belonging in their schools and communities. As part of this mission, they created an online resource that lists books with rainbow themes and characters. The Out on the Shelves campaign week is an opportunity for schools and community libraries to promote more visibility and increase awareness of rainbow-themed books among young people.

During their annual campaign week, schools and libraries are encouraged to build and promote their rainbow collections, celebrate rainbow stories and help connect rainbow young people with their stories and with each other.

"Rainbow young people in New Zealand are 4.5 x more likely than their peers to be bullied at school on an ongoing basis, and over half are worried that someone will hurt or bother them at school," says InsideOUT Managing Director Tabby Besley. "Normalising rainbow identities through the power of stories and visibility in our school and public libraries helps combat that bullying, and breaks down the isolation that so many rainbow young people face."

In honour of the Out on the Shelves campaign week, schools and libraries across the country are planning events and creating displays of the rainbow books in their collections. InsideOUT is also hosting a YouTube LIVE event on Wednesday, 19 June (4-5PM) with kiwi comics artist, Sam Orchard, and Lambda Literary Award-winning state-side author, Sassafras Lowrey. The team behind Out on the Shelves wanted to ensure that young people all over the country, regardless of their location, could participate in an event celebrating rainbow reading.

As part of the campaign, libraries, schools and individuals can order free sets of seven double-sided bookmarks. Each bookmark represents a different spectrum of rainbow identity, and this year, bookmarks with intersex and takatāpui/rainbow Māori themes have been added. InsideOUT also encourages people across the country to submit a review of their favourite rainbow book to the database.

"We hope that during the campaign, young people across Aotearoa will connect with rainbow stories. For many young people, books are a way they can explore identities," says Out on the Shelves coordinator Erin Fae. "It is powerful to see yourself mirrored in the pages of a favourite book."

InsideOUT hopes that many people will pick up a new rainbow themed book next week. To get started, explore the Out on the Shelves resource:

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