Our School Library is a Safe Space

 

This is not something new. Our school library has always been a safe space for kiddos of all kinds. Our wonderful school community is a rich tapestry of many woven threads, rich colors, diverse backgrounds, orientations, expressions, many abilities and kids from many lands speaking many languages.

Laurel, Maryland is right smack dab between Washington DC and Baltimore – it’s like our school has always been a mini United Nations. I love that about us!  And our School Library has always enjoyed being a draw and a safe landing spot for kids who are quirky, nerdy, bookish, techie, geeky, queer, gay, trans, wordy, dramatic, creative, alternative, and cool. I was a habitué of and a help in my Middle School Library and always an Ally to my LGBTQ friends – even though we didn’t have that acronym in the 80’s!

That’s why I thought it was important and reassuring to have a sign that proclaimed that we are a Safe Space or a Safe Zone right on our front doors and right by our check out desk!

What is a Safe Space? According to the Safe Space Network, “A Safe Space is a place where anyone can relax and be able to fully express, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, religious affiliation, age or physical or mental ability.”

This space welcomes and respects ALL people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We believe that all persons regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression should be treated with dignity and respect

Kindness matters.

The fact that I also found a rainbow narwhal with a glittery horn made it extra and spiffy!

What does it mean to be an Ally? What does it mean to have a Safe Zone or a Safe Space? I found a great resource from the Human Rights Campaign website:

“What is an Ally?
In the most general sense, an “Ally” is “a person who is a member of the dominant or majority group who works to end oppression in their personal and professional life through support of, and as an advocate for, the oppressed population.”1 Allies to racial, religious and ethnic minorities have been remarkably effective in promoting positive change in the dominant culture, and only recently has their instrumental position been extended to the area of sexual orientation. In recent years we’ve seen more and more LGBTQ Ally organizations strive to make the culture of a campus or workplace more aware and accepting of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals

An Ally strives to…
• be a friend
• be a listener
• be open-minded
• have their own opinions
• be willing to talk
• recognize their personal boundaries
• join others with a common purpose
• believe that all persons regardless of age, sex, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression should be treated with dignity and respect
• recognize when to refer an individual to additional resources
• confront their own prejudices
• engage in the process of developing a culture free of homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism
• recognize their mistakes, but not use them as an excuse for inaction
• be responsible for empowering their role in a community, particularly as it relates to responding to homophobia or transphobia
• recognize the legal powers and privileges that cisgender straight people have and which LGBTQ people are denied
• support the Ally program of their university or workplace
• commit themselves to personal growth in spite of the discomfort it may sometimes cause

As important as it is to define what an Ally is in a positive sense, it is also helpful to understand the boundaries of an Ally’s role.

An Ally is NOT…
• someone with ready-made answers
• necessarily a counselor, nor are they necessarily trained to deal with crisis situations”

from:  Establishing an Allies/Safe Zone Program

Want this poster for your school library? Copy it from my GSuite Drive or download it from my Slideshare below!


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One of my 8th graders told me about this super reading list available at the Howard County Public Library, and brought me one! Sadly, they don’t have the same list online, can’t figure out why not (backlash?)

 

 


 Related Posts & Resources:

Dear Queer Teen – It Get’s Better!

Great resources from The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN):

Download this FREE PDF!  Safe Space Kit – GLSEN

Safe Space Kit in Every Ohio School | GLSEN

GLSEN Safe Space Kit: Be an ALLY to LGBTQ Youth! 

More Than a Safe Space – Educational Leadership – ASCD

For LGBT Students, Are ‘Safe Schools’ Enough? – Education Week

History & Importance of Safe Spaces in Schools

Opening the Doors to Learning Through Safe Spaces in K-12 Schools

5 Reasons Why Safe Spaces Are Important On Campus

MHMS In Your Pocket

Welcome back, kiddos, parents, families, & our community! This year we got rid of our Facebook page but added a new @HCPSS_MHMS Twitter page!

We have a new Principal Mr. Joshua Wasilewski and the Daring School Library has a new Media Assistant – Ms. Bell! Exciting changes!

And we also updated our MHMS Daring School Library Media Orientation Animation!

Dear MHMS Families,

Our MHMS Daring School Library Media program has some exciting opportunities in store for your kiddos this year:

  • Our program will be promoting the very best of young adult literature with activities designed to help students enjoy stories even more.
  • We will be doing our very best to get (or keep) every kid “hooked on reading” by recommending specific reading materials to each individual.
  • We will be adding 400 or more of the latest and most exciting new titles for our young readers, including quality non-fiction to help meet Common Core requirements. We will also be adding more to our impressive Digital Playaway book collection.
  • At each grade level, students will learn research and computer skills including use of tools like Edmodo, Google Apps for Education, Career Puppy, Noodletools, QR Codes, and much more.
  • We will be working with classroom teachers to help infuse technology and research skills into all areas of the curriculum.
  • Library lessons will stress good Digital Citizenship, helping your kid make safe and ethical decisions when using the Internet.
  • We are planning lots of special events including virtual author visits, curated Art installations, and virtual connections with schools from around the country & maybe the world!
  • We are looking for students to join our MHTV studio contributing to our daily live news show created FOR kids BY kids!
  • If you would like to volunteer to help in the library, please let me know. We would love to have you!

 

Ms. Bell and I are very excited about the coming school year and are committed to making the library your child’s favorite place at MHMS!

Cheers!

~Gwyneth Jones – The Daring Librarian
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YOU Are Our BEST Customer!

That’s right Murray Hillers! Our beloved students, parents, families, teachers, & community are our BEST customers! You’re why we’re here!

Welcome Back to School!

Murray Hill Middle School strives every day to put into practice our motto “A Model for School Improvement!”  We strive to be accessible by utilizing Google forms, Google docs, and wikipages to provide many ways for you to feel connected to our school and to have a voice! Here’s just a few ways we’re here for YOU!

You suggest the books & we buy them!

During your media center orientations you will hear more about contributing YOUR suggestions to our annual book order. But for those of you who are tech savvy, at home, you can Google “MHMS Learning” and our Learning Wiki comes up first! (OR you could click the link! LOL)….there you will see the banner “I WANT THIS BOOK.” Click on that banner (also above!)  and you can add any books, authors, or subjects of books that you would like to see purchased for our school library collection. (Murray Hill peeps only…sorry world!)

You suggest songs & we play them!

Like music?  While at the wiki you will also see a banner for our new MHTV Music Request Line where you can suggest Appropriate clean songs to play on our show. Clicking on this banner will take you to a form where you can suggest songs with our MHTV guidelines. Basically, don’t forget to check lyrics for language (no f-bombs, sh-words or b words!) and content (no drinking, drugs, overt sex, demeaning or prejudicial terms) ALL song must ultimately have a good & positive message! That’s how we roll!

You write the book reviews & we publish them!
Write a good book review and we’ll publish it! You can also read book reviews that other MHMS students have written.

You need tech help at home?  You got it!

Printer run out of ink? Don’t know how to save your DOCX to a DOC? Wanna use Wikipedia but don’t know how to cite it? (Hint: DON’T!) See the Wiki for the whole story! Who needs the Geek Squad when you have us to help you out!? Visit our Trouble Shooting Tips for Students (and parents & teachers, too!) wikipage!

You need homework help at home?  You got it!

Our research databases are so AWEsome, it only feels like cheating!

MHMS is Everywhere.

For You.

(not in a stalky way, though! LOL)

Follow MHMS_Media on Twitter! Look for exciting new books, fun contests, & ways to publish Twitter styled & sized book reviews!

Like Us on Facebook! 

Please feel free to participate on our interactive wiki, blog, Facebook, and Twitter! We want to be available to you wherever you are!  If you have any suggestions on how we can be more interactive with you, our school, and community? Please tell us by leaving a comment! We HEART Comments!

QR Codes Hit the Hill!

We embrace mobile media here at MHMS! Proof of which you’ll see in cool black and white when you visit us for Back to School Night!

Have a smart phone?  Be ready & download a QR code reader app!  We really like the FREE iNigma QR code reader available in both Droid, iPhone, or iPad versions.  You’ll see several QR Codes around the building guiding you to different helpful websites (and maybe a secret message or two!) – be ready to scan! Want to learn more about QR Codes? Check out this handy Comic Tutorial!

Ps. Exciting news update!  Ms. Jones got accepted & attended the super cool & exclusive Google Teacher Academy in Seattle Washington this summer….and though she’s LONG been a Googler now she’s an official Google Certified Teacher! Whooooohoooo!! I can’t wait to show you all the cool stuffs I learned that will extra Googlize your life!