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LGBTQA Teen Writing Groups

This is a design for a writing group for LGBTQA teenagers to share the projects that may not be deemed acceptable by their teachers at school, their peers, their families, etcetera. A very good way for young writers to grow is to be able to bounce off of each other, and combined with LGBTQA youth being potentially more comfortable “outing” themselves to other LGBTQA youth and adults this is a doubly valuable program.

Resources:

 

  • Terminology to know (a list, courtesy of Eli R. Green and Eric N. Peterson at the LGBT Resource Center at UC Riverside 2003-2004, and another, courtesy of GLAAD).
  • ALA Policies regarding LGBT people: 53.1.15, 53.12, 60.3.
  • Bibliographies and book lists for LGBT people, courtesy of the ALA:
  • Facts about LGBT populations, courtesy of the Williams Institute via the ALA:
    • As of the 2010 census “there are 901,997 same-sex couples living in the United States represented in 99% of U.S. Counties.”
    • Based on results of research by the National Survey of Family growth, “if 4.1% of all adults identify as such, then an estimated 8.8 million adults are gay, lesbian, or bisexual in the United States. “
    • A personal note: it is possible that these numbers represent only a portion of the population, as the data is a few years old and because not all LGBTQIA people definitively answered the survey or census.
  • The ALA’s Library Bill of Rights.
  • Community Based GLBTQ Youth Support Groups and Safe Schools Coalitions.
  • A Resources page from The Writers Circle of New Jersey.
  • Some personal accounts of teen writers circles: 1, 2, 3.

Sample outline of a day in the program:

  • Greeting/getting comfortable/getting food.
  • Staff educator (librarian or volunteer with expertise in writing) gives a lesson on a writing element (i.e. dialogue, plot development, research, worldbuilding, poetry structure, script formatting).
  • Teens break into small groups and all share the pieces they’ve been working on that week, then nominating one or two members of the group to share with everyone.
  • Group comes back together and nominated students share with everyone; after each work shared there is 5-10 minutes for critique and response.
  • Teens have a chance to share relevant LGBTQIA material they have been interested in, whether it be real world news or the written word.

Concerns:

  • LGBTQIA teens may be more hesitant to share their work, whether or not that pertains to LGBTQIA subjects or not, because they have been told, explicitly or implicitly, that they’re or it’s inappropriate or wrong.
  • LGBTQIA teens may not have read much material that pertains to LGBTQIA subjects and may be unsure of how to express some things.
  • Not all teenagers will have had the same level of education and some may know more about writing fundamentals than others.
  • Not all teenagers will have the same interests in writing: some will be interested in non-fiction, some in fiction, some in poetry, some in screenplays or plays, some in graphic novels, etcetera. All kinds of output should be encouraged and none should be valued above others.

Goals: Providing a safe space for LGBTQIA teens to grow as writers and people, a place for them to have the safety and comfort they may not at school while learning and furthering their creative sides.

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