Throughout the month of September, the PFLAG Portland Black Chapter is collecting reading materials for incarcerated queer youth. The organization is looking for literature from Queer and Transgender authors with a focus on writers of color.
PFLAG Youth Coordinator Leila Hofstein said the Oregon Youth Authority approached her for guidance in helping queer and transgender youth. The book drive is the first step in a plan to provide support and mentorship to these young adults.
Hofstein said it was a big step for the OYA to even acknowledge the different sexual orientations and gender identities of their wards.
“We saw a big institution trying to push and make that change and we wanted to hop on board and keep that momentum going,” she said.
Organizers are looking for zines, books, magazines as well as reference materials that would enable youth to build skills to help them transition to life after incarceration. These books would include things like the classic career guidance manual What Color is Your Parachute? and memoirs from others who have experienced incarceration.
These books and magazines can be dropped off at three Portland locations:
There haven’t been requests for any specific titles and some books may be rejected due to content restrictions of the OYA, but Hofstein said people should feel free to donate whatever titles they wish. Donated books will find a home.
“We are just trying to cast a wide net and get as much in as we can. If anything gets bounced back, then that will go to our other youth programs,” Hofstein said.
Multiple copies of books are also accepted. The PFLAG Portland Black Chapter hopes to have enough donations to create three Queer book libraries in separate OYA facilities. If this book drive is successful, PFLAG may continue taking donations beyond September.
Hofstein said this book drive is an important way to reach out and help the disenfranchised.
“If we are not empowering the most marginalized and the most disempowered in our community then what is this work for?”
For more information, check out the Facebook event page for the book drive.