Librarian, John Kreider, awarded the Always Visible and Outfront Award: “Being visible and out front is more important than ever”

Thea Pipe, Opinion Editor

Across the country we have seen many places take steps back in the fight for equality for the LGBTQIA+ community, but Kalamazoo has taken no such steps back thanks to people like Loy Norrix librarian John Kreider.
John Kreider, along with Dr. Heather Dannison, Dell Darnell and Jennifer Gruel were recognized at an award ceremony sponsored by Stryker for their contributions to the LGBTQIA+ community here in Kalamazoo and for their advocacy for LGBTQIA+ rights. Krieder, in particular, won the Always Visible and Outfront Award.
Kreider is a prominent figure at Loy Norrix and has spent many years in Kalamazoo Public Schools. They used to be a teacher at Kalamazoo Central, then moved to Loy Norrix as first an English teacher and then the librarian. They have been the staff advisor for the Loy Norrix Gender and Sexuality Alliance for the last three years and even continued to hold weekly virtual meetings when school went online in the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years.
Thanks to many people in the Southwest Michigan area, including many of those present at the awards ceremony, Kalamazoo is uniquely accepting of people in the LGBTQIA+ community. Considering the hostility shown to this group in other cities and states, this acceptance is becoming increasingly important.
However, it’s still not a perfect community and Krieder has been doing their best to provide a safe space for LGBTQI+ students.
“There are a lot of students who can’t go to the GSA for various reasons, sometimes it’s for their own safety, and I spend quite a bit of time during the school day speaking with students who don’t attend GSA for those reasons,” said Kreider.
Kreider was awarded for their work as a librarian and GSA supervisor and for what they described as “showing up authentically” for students. Kreider’s work includes curating a collection of books they believe are relevant and of interest to the students in the school.
Kreider tries very hard to ensure that as many different identities, groups and voices are represented as can be, especially voices which have been historically marginalized.
Junior, Jay Michels said, “I think Kreider is one of the most passionate and kind people I’ve met. Their soul is genuinely good and loving.”
Kreider also works to make sure the library itself is a welcoming space, that means organizing the furniture and setting up the room to make it a comfortable and welcoming place to be.
Beyond working as a librarian, Kreider helps run the GSA. According to Kreider they, “try to let the students run the group, like this year there was a lot less planning.”
The hope Kreider has is that the structure of the group and the activities they run will be responsive to what the group wants, whatever it may be. Some years, they plan weekly activities and lessons, while other years, like this one, the meetings are more free-form and mostly centered around GSA being a safe place for everyone to be, which is what Kreider was referencing with there being a lot less planning this year.
Kreider does a lot for their students, for example, this year, Kreider put on the “Through the Views” event with all of the progressive clubs and has been trying to put together a Loy Norrix Pride event.
Now, all the effort Kreider has put in to help students has been recognized, much to Kreider’s joy and the pride of those students who he has helped.
Michels said, “I feel proud that they are finally getting recognition for their passion.”