On April 21, the San Diego Unified School District is set to receive more than 2,000 age-appropriate, LGBTQ-affirming books. It’s the largest delivery yet by Gender Nation, a nonprofit founded by actor Morgan Walsh, who plays Ginger Flynn on BET’s “Games People Play,” and Keiko Feldman, co-owner of Juris Prods. and a former KNBC-TV producer.
The idea for Gender Nation came when Walsh and her husband, “Veep” actor Matt Walsh, wanted to make sure their oldest son didn’t feel alone because he didn’t know other boys who also showed an interest in American Doll girls and fairy wings. Looking to connect with other families, Morgan Walsh started a Facebook page, where she met Feldman, who has a nonbinary child and a gay son.
Walsh and Feldman are now working to empower and validate kids through access to inclusive stories that reflect the full spectrum of sexuality and gender identity. With the San Diego delivery, 70,000 kids across 140 schools will have access to inclusive storytelling, adding to the 145 schools to which Gender Nation has already donated.
“We always encourage them: Don’t make this a special LGBTQ+ section in your library; don’t only get them out in June,” Walsh tells Variety. “These are stories about people and the human experience.”
According to The Trevor Project, LGBTQ kids are nearly five times more likely than heterosexual youths to attempt suicide. Gender Nation hopes its books will show LGBTQ kids they’re not alone and to seek help if they’re in danger.
“We have a slogan on all of our books, stickers that we put in, that say, ‘Open book, open hearts, open minds,’” Feldman says. “That’s exactly the reason we do this.”