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Mobile bookshop creates safe space for LGBTQ+ families

Mobile bookstore brings LGBT visibility to Oakland kids
Mobile bookstore brings LGBT visibility to Oakland kids 02:50

SAN FRANCISCO -- Two educators are creating a space for families to find LGBTQ+ children's stories after seeing a growing need for representation.

Katy Butler and Charlie McDonald are the founders of Out and About Bookshop. They took an old school bus and transformed it into a mobile children's bookstore that is making those types of stories accessible for all. 

The two educators said that the bookshop is a mobile safe space for the LGBTQ+ community that they built themselves and can take anywhere.

Butler told CBS News Bay Area they are trying to fill a need while spreading positivity.

"There was so much negative press around trans children, LGBTQ+ youth in the country and all of the book bans were happening," said Butler. "So it felt really important to create a space where the primary focus was joy."

And so, the former school bus was painted lavender and turned into the Out and About Bookshop.

The duo says the bookstore was made possible thanks to financial help from the L.C. and Lillie Cox Haven of Hope in Oakland. The program is a nonprofit that supports emerging social enterprise leaders in their community.

"This supports our community programming. So the story times we are doing today for instance, or bringing books to classrooms, taking the bus to different schools, book clubs and all that is supported through that," said Butler.

McDonald says starting this bookstore journey revealed a piece about them, that many kids, who walk onto the bus often face.

"Growing up, I didn't really enjoy reading and I didn't read a lot," McDonald said. "It wasn't until Katy gave me a book where the character was non-binary. I identify as non-binary and there was so many parallels to the character and this story to my life. I read it one sitting and fell in love with it, and I said, 'OK, I want more!' And she kept handing me books, and now I really enjoy reading."

Despite the overall positive feedback, the mobile bookshop says their safety is always a concern.

"Unfortunately, given the climate we are in and some things that have happened in drag queen story hours, the conversations in our country that are really harmful to LGBTQ+ youth -- we don't want to put any of our readers or anyone who is coming on to the bus to feel unsafe. And as two queer individuals ourselves we want to make sure we are safe," said Butler.

With just a few months under their wheels, the Out and About Bookshop says this is just the beginning and you can find them throughout the Bay Area. In order to find where they are headed next, be sure to follow their Instagram account.

"We have a mailing list that we link to, so through that mailing list once or sometimes twice a week the exact locations---where we will be," explained Butler.  

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