On February 27, the Library participated in our first Jazz & Friends event, which is in its fifth year nationally as a day of school and community readings. Co-sponsored nationally by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)'s Welcoming Schools program and the National Education Association (NEA), our local event was co-sponsored by the Library and the Camas Education Association (CEA). According to the HRC's website, Jazz & Friends seeks to join "parents, educators, elected officials and allies in solidarity with transgender and gender-expansive students by hosting school and community readings of I Am Jazz, a children’s book by transgender teen trailblazer Jazz Jennings, as well as additional titles."
The Camas Library saw this as an excellent opportunity to partner with local education to reach out to the families in our community with transgender or gender-expansive children, and the allies who support them. Based on public demand, our 2019-2021 strategic plan includes action items to "identify to the public events that foster diversity or inclusiveness." Participating in this event allowed us to achieve this important benchmark while also impacting the lives of our patrons.
The afterschool event featured a storytime with the theme of picture books celebrating honest self-expression despite gender constraints, free book giveaways, and crafts in which participants could decorate crowns or mermaid tails. Twenty-one people attended.
A patron thanked the event organizers, Vanessa Perger and Kaysie Taylor, and indicated that there is support in our community for more programs like this.