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Taking pride in KC area libraries highlighting voices of queer community

Ashley Haden-Peaches
Posted at 7:46 AM, Jun 10, 2024

MERRIAM, Kan. — When Ashley Haden-Peaches picks out a bedtime story, she keeps a few things in mind.

“We do seek out a lot of books that are about queer families and that represent lots of different family structures, and especially that have Black and brown kids in them,” said Haden-Peaches, LGBTQ+ parent.

VOICE FOR EVERYONE | Share your voice with KSHB 41’s Olivia Acree

She said she and her wife work to help their kids understand what they’re reading, no matter the topic.

“I actually did bring home a book a couple of weeks ago, and I was it was a pride book," she said. "And there was a lot more explaining than I typically would have to do. But you know, as a parent, that's my job."

A parent's job and maybe a librarian’s.

“One of our core missions is to learn and explore, enjoy, create, connect. So, I think Pride month gives our community the opportunity to do all of those things,” said Elissa Andre with the Johnson County Library.

As KSHB 41 highlights voices of the community this Pride month, Andre said the library is doing the same.

“It's so important for people to see themselves represented in media, whether it's a book, an online resource, whatever that is,” Andre said.

Hearing LGBTQ+ voices is becoming harder to do in some states. The American Library Association said the number of book challenges rose 65% in 2023.

The AMA said Missouri is among the top book censorship states.

Haden-Peaches actively works to keep pride books on shelves.

“We all need to see other people as the hero in not the things that we're consuming," Haden-Peaches said. "And that's really important to recognize that it's not just about ourselves but about our collective ... society."

Andre said she knows people have varying levels of comfort with certain topics.

She pointed out that all Johnson County library locations have a "tough topics" guide in the restrooms, so people can find the book they’re looking for without having to ask for help.