SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Two moms are on a mission to empower students through inclusive stories.
On Wednesday, the non-profit Gender Nation will donate more than 2,000 age-appropriate, inclusive LGBTQ+ books to public and charter schools in the San Diego Unified School District.
"We learned right away that there's a demand," said Gender Nation co-founder Morgan Walsh. "These school districts and these schools and these kids and these teachers want these books. So, we're filling a need."
Walsh said she got the idea for Gender Nation after her child told her he didn't know any other kids like him.
"I said, do you want me to help you find some other kids like you," Walsh said. "Do you mean boys that don't like sports or boys that like dolls? Is that what you mean. He said yes, and I sat down at my computer knowing that I would find other families raising kids like this."
Walsh started with a Facebook page where people could tell their stories and have a connection.
That’s where she met Gender Nation co-founder Keiko Feldman and asked her to tell her story.
"I have a son that came out at 15 and is gay," Feldman said. "He was super supported and met with very positive reinforcement everywhere. He was willing to share his story and encourage other people."
Walsh says they saw the impact the stories had, but there was only so much she could do through social media.
Eventually, that Facebook page morphed into the nonprofit Gender Nation.
Instead of sharing stories through Facebook, Walsh and Feldman began sharing books to schools.
So far, the organization has donated books to more than 145 schools across California. Age-appropriate books that inform empower and validate children.
"I think every child benefits from it because for kids who are going through something and wondering if they are ok and wondering if they are weird and wondering if something's wrong with them, these books are just stories that help them feel less alone," Feldman said. "For kids who don't have that experience, these books open their mind and open their heart a little to the fact that everybody's different in a way that's not threatening to them in any way. Every kid who discovers a book on the shelf is benefiting from these books being there."
In San Diego, each school in the district will receive a set of 16 vetted books.
"It's important for kids to be able to tell their stories and to see their stories often and routinely throughout the school year. Once they do, the idea is that students will be able to better connect with their schools," said Mick Rabin project resource teacher in the Youth Advocacy department at the San Diego Unified School District.
After the organization delivers the books to SDUSD delivery, more than 137,000 elementary-age school children will have access to these books.
"We all know what it's like to get lost in a book, and to open and relate to it and find yourself in one is a very important experience in development," Walsh said.
Gender Nation relies on donations to help purchase books. You can learn more at https://gendernation.org/donations/gender-nation/.