Wilmette, Community

Adults learn about inclusivity, identity with author visit in Wilmette

While a children’s book was the subject of Friday’s event at the Wilmette Public Library, it was the parents who were the students.

Married authors Dr. Courtney Wells and Lee Wells read their work, “A Kids Book About Pronouns,” to 50 or so visitors on April 26, before participating in a moderated conversation.

The special event was part of the library’s Let’s Learn Together series that takes on topics that can be challenging and complicated to discuss. The 2024 program focuses on gender, identity and expression.

Dr. Courtney Wells (left) and Lee Wells speak with guests of their author talk April 26 at the Wilmette Public Library.

“A Kids Book About Pronouns” helps readers — children and caregivers alike — understand and discuss pronouns and how they help individuals identify who they are.

Courtney, who uses they/them pronouns, and Lee Wells, she/her, explained that as they began the adoption process, they thought about how they would discuss pronouns and identity as a family. That discussion put the pair — Courtney a trauma psychologist, and Lee a therapist specializing in LGBTQ+ families — on a path to help others do the same. The result was “A Kids Book About Pronouns.”

The library partnered with local Wilmette parent-teacher organizations to welcome the authors for the parent-centered talk.

Lorenza Amigo, of the McKenzie Elementary PTA, said the group’s participation is in line with the Wilmette District 39’s mission of providing an inclusive and equitable environment, and the event offered a “safe space where you could ask questions and learn about complicated topics.”

Buttons for guests of the discussion on “A Kids Book About Pronouns.”

Wilmette resident Bonnie Kim, an attorney with the Illinois Human Rights Commission, was on hand Friday. Kim, also a D39 School Board member, said she recently read the book and it helped her better understand pronoun usage. For instance, noting your pronouns in your email signature is a positive way to demonstrate openness, an important piece of inclusive conversations and environments.

Lee Wells said “the environment matters” and so does inclusive language. Members of the LGBTQ+ community “hear it,” she said.

Courtney Wells added that displaying an openness “lessens the fear we have about difficult conversations. … Pronouns get a lot of hype, but it’s just another conversation.”

Following the book discussion, Courtney and Lee Wells stuck around to further discuss “A Kids Book About Pronouns” and its message with guests.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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