Canada's first LGBT youth shelter asks for help building its library

This week, Sprott House — Canada's first shelter for LGBT youth — opened in Toronto's Annex neighbourhood. Offering rooms for up to 25 youth between the ages of 16 and 24, the facility needs your help to take it to a very necessary next level: an in-house library.

Donations are being accepted until February 15

(Michael Erickson)

This week, Sprott House — Canada's first shelter for LGBT youth — opened in Toronto's Annex neighbourhood. Offering rooms for up to 25 youth between the ages of 16 and 24, the facility needs help to build an in-house library.

The relationship between story and survival is really important for queer and trans people.- Glad Day Bookshop co-owner Michael Erickson

​Sprott House is teaming up with another pioneering Canadian institution, Glad Day Bookshop, to make that happen. Forty-six years after it became the country's first LGBT specialized bookstore, Glad Day is leading a drive to collect books for the shelter. The Toronto-based store will itself donate $800 worth of its inventory (which roughly equals 60 books), and is organizing outreach to the public to substantially increase that number. So far, the campaign is proving very effective.

"It's been really fantastic," Glad Day co-owner Michael Erickson said. "We've seen an outpouring of support from queer, trans and straight communities alike."

Erickson said 200 books have been donated so far, with another 100-150 expected before the February 15th deadline.

There are a few different ways to help. People in the Toronto area can drop off used books at the store (which will also get you $1 in store credit per book), or head to Glad Day's website and browse through the extensive collection and get 30 per cent off whichever ones you choose. So far most of the donated books have tended to be of an academic level, so donating books for lower reading levels is being encouraged. Erickson added that the shelter could use some more books focusing on LGBT people of colour, and that it also needs a few more book shelves. 

Books have always been a major resource in connecting LGBT individuals to a larger community, Erickson noted.

"The relationship between story and survival is really important for queer and trans people. We're looking at a group of youth who don't have a home to go to. Books can act as queer and trans elders at this point in their lives, and can help ease loneliness in many ways."

Erickson also added that books largely written by and for LGBT people offer very different representations compared to what a lot of youth typically see through the mainstream media

"We see a lot of sex in mainstream representations," he explained. "In a book, we tend to see the relationship between desire and love. It's important to see models of that dynamic."

The book drive continues through February 15.


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