'You … saved their life, and you might never know'

For decades, young gay people have sought out books to help them understand themselves and their world — and librarians have been there to help them. Libraries, whether community, K-12 or university, have provided essential information in safety and privacy, with staffers who know how to help visitors who won't or can't ask for what they need, recognize that the books that are the most stolen are the most needed, and know when to step back and let young people seek answers for themselves.

As new restrictions and bans on books threaten these sanctuaries, Beth Hawkins takes a look at the evolution of libraries into welcoming spaces for LGBTQ youth and introduces a retired librarian who not only made history with his 1971 marriage, but helped create places where gay people like him can, in the words of one curator, "dive into someone else’s story and see themselves.”

LGBTQ Students

The Serendipitous Story of How Libraries Came to Be Sanctuaries for Gay Kids


For many LGBTQ students, libraries are welcoming places that provide safety and privacy for seeking information. But it wasn't always this way. Beth Hawkins looks at the transformation, spearheaded by Stonewall-generation librarians who fought to change everything from subject headings in the card catalog to the books that were published; taught reference desk staff how to react to fearful visitors unable or unwilling to say what they are after; and understood that frequently stolen titles are often the most important. And she introduces one of the gay pioneers behind the effort — and the book about his 1971 wedding that could fall victim to the current political climate.

School Safety

Experts Question ‘Clearinghouse’ Mandated by New Gun Reform Law


The federal government must create a “clearinghouse” of research-backed school safety practices under the gun reform legislation President Joe Biden signed Saturday. But some experts say the existing online collection of studies, practices and grant opportunities hasn’t served educators well and only duplicates federal and state efforts. “The distance between the federal government and your local school principal is huge,” school safety expert Ken Trump told reporter Linda Jacobson. 

  • Ohio: Teachers May Soon Carry Guns. Racial Bias Among Experts’ Safety Concerns
  • Texas: Uvalde School Police Chief Placed on Leave
  • Inside the $3 Billion School Security Industry: Companies Market Sophisticated Technology to ‘Harden’ Campuses, but Will It Make Us Safe?


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Higher Education

8 Ways Colleges Are Stepping Up After Roe Reversal

From reforming attendance policies to expanding access to medical abortions, colleges are playing a critical role in supporting pregnant students post-Roe. Aided by statewide legislation and funding, every California public college and university will offer assistance, and Massachusetts may soon follow suit. “I think that the responsibility to provide access to care increases with this reversal … to alleviate that burden on clinics and to cut down travel time for students,” Tamara Marzouk, Advocates for Youth’s abortion access director, told The 74’s Marianna McMurdock.


Paper: Expanded School Meals Program Lowered Nearby Grocery Bills

President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan measure to extend a massive, pandemic-era expansion of free school meals, a deal that is welcome news for education and nutrition advocates who had argued that a lapse in the school lunch waivers would result in tens of thousands of children going hungry. A fresh look at recent research also reveals wider impacts to society — that the greater availability of free meals in public schools actually lowers grocery prices and spending even for those without school-aged children. Kevin Mahnken reports.


Graduation Night in Uvalde


Graduation at Uvalde High School was originally set for May 27, three days after the shooting at Robb Elementary that left 19 children and two teachers dead. Last Friday, after a four-week delay, seniors had their moment on the stage, families had a reason to celebrate — and the city enjoyed a fleeting moment of normalcy amid the fallout of tragedy. As Ariana Perez-Castells and Kylie Cooper report in our latest partnership with The Texas Tribune, some students opted out of the pageantry, but for those who received their diplomas, it was an important and emotional conclusion to a turbulent high school chapter.

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