The NB Media Co-op’s Marie-Christine Allard interviews Chantal Plourde, a high school student at Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton, about her project collecting books by and about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) people.
Marie-Christine Allard: When did you get the idea for your book project?
Chantal Plourde: It started in my World Issues class. I had to do a major project on something that benefits the community. I came up with idea to put LGBT books into high school libraries. My Mom came up with the name – Literature Gives Belonging to Youth (LGBT).
MCA: Why did you think this project was important?
CP: Books are still very important in our lives. Books help people figure themselves out. I think it’s important for teens to read about LGBT issues, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. Because our community isn’t represented very much in libraries, I thought it would help.
MCA: How have people responded to the project?
CP: So far it’s all been positive. A group called Queer Theory Collective in Fredericton has been very supportive. I learned that Fredericton is a lot more supportive than I thought. The librarian [at my school] was very helpful! The librarian decorated everything purple during purple day [a day in support of LGBT teens].
MCA: How did you get the word out?
CP: I started to tell people about it and made an Amazon wish list with over 100 books on it. I also organized a jelly bean jar competition and raised $60. I raised $215 to buy books. I worked with Youth Pride last year. They had raised money that was never used, so they agreed to give money to the project. A lot of people donated $20. I announced it at school and sold tickets at lunch.
MCA: What is next for your project?
CP: I’m hoping to do a benefit concert and coffee house for the last push. After that, I will give the books to the library. I want to keep going with the project and give books to other high schools and middle schools – and then maybe even the public library. Hopefully, I can make it into an organization and have other groups doing the same in their own high schools.
MCA: How can people contribute to the project?
CP: People can contribute by spreading the word about how important LGBT literature is to teens. Sometimes, books are the only things that these teenagers can relate to; when their parents or friends may not understand. I’m also going to a New Brunswick Teachers’ Association conference on May 6th. I will be sharing my project with the teachers. Hopefully, some of the teachers will start their own LGBT Youth Project in their own schools; making the project go province wide. Bringing awareness and supporting LGBT people and their allies is the best thing people can do.
To contact Chantal about the book project, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marie-Christine Allard is a member of the NB Media Co-op.