A publisher in Japan has released a range of books that aim to teach primary school children about the LGBT+ community.
Otsuki Shoten Co has published "Watashirashiku, LGBTQ”, translated from an American series of books called “Living Proud! Growing Up LGBTQ” by Robert Rodi and Laura Ross.
The books explore the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and teach how "anyone should be able to become happy, as oneself".
The educational resources are aimed at LGBT+ kids—as well as the wider community—in the hopes of providing students with a broader perspective as well as promoting understanding and acceptance.
"We want children who are not (of the LGBT community) and teachers to also read these books," one of the books' editors told Japan Today.
The books offer a glimpse of what it's like to be LGBT+, describing positive experiences as well as illustrating the discrimination the community faces.
One of the stories features a young woman who comes out to her family and is accepted for who she is. Another story shows how many LGBT+ people are shunned by their relatives with one mother telling her daughter that “she will be cured soon”.
There’s even a brightly coloured series of books available for younger children, "Iro-iro na Sei, Iro-iro na Ikikata" ("Various Sexes, Various Lifestyles") that was released in April last year.
"It is important to have the books readily available at libraries and schools for when someone's interest is piqued," said chief editor Yu Iwashita.
LGBT+ education in Japan
Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch condemned Japan for missing an important opportunity to educate students about sexual and gender minorities.
The government opted to omit LGBT+ topics from the national curriculum during a once in a decade review saying it would be too “difficult” because “the public and guardians have not accepted” the topic yet.
"Despite this being an important issue, efforts for the LGBT community by teachers and schools in Japan have fallen behind," said education commentator Naoki Ogi. "(But) I feel like the tide has finally turned (for the better)," he said.
A male teacher in his 30s from Tochigi Prefecture said the books were vital resources not just for students, but teachers as well.
“If you look at recent survey results there is inevitably at least one LGBT child to a classroom,” he said.
“In order to build a relationship of trust with students, it is important for teachers to acquire proper knowledge.”