Serving Our GLBTQ Customers (at the Library)


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  • Thanks so much for this. My colleagues and I have been talking about ways to make our Youth Services dept. more visibly inclusive for LGBTQ teens and this provides some great starting points.
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  • Awesome, awesome, awesome. Great job Emily. This will be extremely helpful
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  • Definition from the World Health Organization:

    Gender expectations are why many females in this country shave their legs, pluck their facial hair, wear make-up (and why most males do not)

    How arbitrary is some of this stuff that we take for granted as “natural”? Dressing children in pink and blue came into fashion in the 1920s, and, up until WWII, PINK was the color for boys (was seen as a stronger color, related to red=power, blood), and blue was the color for girls (seen as gentle, reminiscent of Virgin Mary). Today, boys who gravitate to pink are often ridiculed.

    “What’s that? It’s Pat! Who’s he? Or she?”--SNL

  • Transgender—adjective “I’m transgendered,” “I’m transgender,” for the most part, NOT “I’m a transgender”

    An increasing number of trans folks are “out” as trans, and either not concerned with or actively against trying to pass for men or women

  • Queer is identified with a less assimilationist response to life in a heterosexist society. “We’re here! We’re queer! Get used to it!”

    Heterosexist: racism, sexism…”heterosexism” is the equivalent of these.

    Queer is not the GLBTQ equivalent of the N-word.

    “Queer Theory,” for example, is a recognized area of academic study.
  • The GLBTQ community in the U.S. has lobbied for an official count, in the form of a category added to the U.S. Census.

    The request was denied for the 2010 Census.
  • —in 2009, the two-day festival in June drew over 342,000 attendees

    Minneapolis, Edina, St. Paul, Maplewood, Duluth, and Rochester

    These domestic partner registries allow couples to:

    qualify for family rates at city facilities (such as swimming pools)

    officially document their relationship, which helps when applying for benefits through one’s spouse (at those businesses that provide domestic partner benefits), and may be of help in medical emergencies in securing visitation rights
    Bloomington, Golden Valley, Richfield, and Robbinsdale are also considering passing domestic partner registries

    Currently, Minnesota Statute 471.61 limits public employers from extending benefits to all but employees’ married spouses and dependent children under the age of 25.
    “A July 2010 report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) indicates that violence directed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Minnesotans continues to increase, perpetuating a multi-year trend, even as nationally numbers have decreased.”
    --OutFront MN

    Data includes a 29% increase in violence towards GLBTQ people of color, and a 138% increase in violence directed towards GLBTQ youth age 15-18

    Both the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County have sought (and been denied) local authority to determine whether benefits should be extended to employees’ domestic partners.
  • Headlines taken from last 3 weeks or so (around Halloween 2010 I started collecting them)
  • Stonewall Riots in 1969 = start of modern GLBTQ rights movement = more and more GLBTQ people began choosing to live openly. As a result, we “suddenly” have a large population of GLBTQ seniors—a group not recognized in previous decades when most lived their lives in the closet

    Twice as likely as heterosexual seniors to live alone, and ten times less likely to have a caretaker
    --many were cut off from their families of origin when they came out
    --GLBTQ parenting was not widespread for this generation, so few have children to assist with caretaking or healthcare decisions

    Many feel they need to (and do) go back into the closet when entering assisted living facilities or nursing homes
    Currently, GLBTQ surviving partners are denied Social Security survivor benefits and may be denied pension rights

    An unmarried GLBTQ surviving partner is required to pay inheritance tax, federal estate tax, and other taxes that a surviving married spouse is not

  • This sounds so basic, but we tend to de-sexualize older folks and also to think of GLBTQ collection needs as lying most in the YA section, as if only teenagers and young adults are GLBTQ. Don’t assume that “little old lady” isn’t a “little old lesbian.” 
  • “Sexual orientation” is a “romantic orientation,” too. You don’t have to be interested in sex yet to know that you’re gay, because you know who makes you blush and stammer and who you want to get a valentine from.

    Younger GLBTQ people are often told they “can’t know who they are” yet

    Not many books written for this age group yet.

    Why come out if it might be dangerous and subject you to bullying and attacks? One reason: lying all the time to your friends is isolating. “Who do you like?”

  • There aren’t more GLBTQ people today—there are just more OUT GLBTQ people today. The more people they see who are happily out, the more likely people are to come out. Kelly McGillis came out at age 52, saying that it was something she had been considering doing since she was 12.

    Children’s author James Howe came out later in life (in his 50s, after two straight marriages), and has written two books about a character who comes out early in life (at age 12).

    Yep, the guy who brought us Bunnicula is gay. Also writes “Pinky and Rex” series, about a boy who adores pink and his best friend, a girl who loves dinosaurs.
  • It used to be that when someone came out, their parents first thought was “Now I’ll never have grandkids.” For a long time in my family, “the gay one” was the only one who had kids. 

    The Twin Cities is packed with GLBTQ families—when you go to Twin Cities Pride festival, there are kids everywhere.

    The 2000 U.S. Census revealed that same-sex couples raising children live in 96% of the nation's counties.

  • --you can hardly read a 20th century GLBTQ memoir or coming-of-age novel without encountering “The Library Scene”—when a person first looks up the definition of homosexuality or lesbianism
    --especially for those who aren’t yet comfortable purchasing a GLBTQ-related book, entering a GLBTQ bookstore or GLBTQ “section” of a bookstore, or are worried about search histories on their home computers)
  • Catalog subject terms are often out-of-date and non-intuitive, because society changes a lot more quickly than catalog subject terms

    Some catalog terms are not just out-of-date, but offensive
  • --especially if it's their first time searching and they aren't yet comfortable vocalizing their interest in or need for GLBTQ-related resources

    Subject headings = They range from outdated
    to non-intuitive to, occasionally, flat-out offensive

    Circulation correlation: A year-long study at Central Michigan University’s Park Library found that circulation of GLBTQ materials was 20% higher at self-checkout stations than it was at the service desk.
  • Transgenderism—came up with only about 84000 google hits. I’ve never seen it used anywhere but in a library catalog.

    Impersonators are performers.

    Transvestites = not really used much since Rocky Horror. Often refers to straight crossdressers, like Eddie Izzard and Ed Wood. Not that we have the MOST results under “transvestite”
  • A subject search on “queer” yields two results on queer theory, advising searchers to also see “gender identity” (but not homosexuality, lesbianism, sexual orientation, etc.)
  • So now you know a more effective way to search, in case anyone asks. But what if they don’t ask?
  • A “GLBTQ” fiction list should include works by or featuring G, L, B, T, and Q individuals. It should include GLBTQ authors/characters of color and GLBTQ authors/characters in the 55+ range.

    A fiction list for any community—if there is only one dedicated list (and not “GLBTQ Mysteries,” etc)—should strive to include literary fiction, popular fiction, historical fiction, mystery, scifi/fantasy, and so on.
  • Why “by heart”? Because it assures customers that we don’t think their request or subject needs are obscure or anomalies. Because it shows them that they did the right thing by asking—some may require courage to ask, and an instant answer will put them at ease.
  • There is one section in the library where casual browsers can fairly easily come across books with GLBTQ main characters: the YA section. It’s great that we have achieved this, but people are GLBTQ their whole lives, and children of GLBTQ parents are children of GLBTQ parents their whole lives.
  • NO ONE is likely to find these books, unless one knows their exact titles in advance.

  • While it’s hard for all children with less conventional families (for ex, interracial families, one-dad families, grandparents as parents, deaf parents, etc) to browse and find books that contain families that look like theirs, most don’t have to go to another section of the library entirely, a more grown-up section, to find them.

    While King and King is about a prince who rejects princesses in favor of a prince—and therefore, kind of about homosexuality (which it could be argued should be catalogued “up” to Children’s), books like Felicia’s Favorite Story simply include the fact that the child protagonist has two moms (without the story being “about” homosexuality).

    Bad browseability = diminished circ stats? Probably.

    I call these “banished” books—books the library doesn’t ban, but banishes to a section in which they’ll be less likely to be found.
  • Assuming a cataloging change isn’t in the offing…
  • …even when the stories are true, and about penguins.

    And Tango Makes Three was the number one most challenged book in the U.S. in 2006, 2007, and 2008. It was number two in 2009.
    Tango, in HCL, IS catalogued as easy fiction.
  • Our existing community. Our ENTIRE community. Having books on hunting isn’t promoting hunting. Having vegan cookbooks isn’t promoting veganism.

    This might also be the time to mention that you don’t personally have to approve of picture books with GLBTQ characters. As a library worker, though, you do have to be able to locate them for those that need them, and to explain why we carry them.
  • How do we make our resources more visible, outside of book lists and displays? OUTREACH!

  • I wear this button. If you’re interested in getting one or finding out where you can make something similar, let me know and I can get you the information.
  • Note—while I did not make a separate slide, because we’ve already addressed this, I did receive feedback from a customer who said she felt welcome when the GLBTQ picture books were shelved with the rest of the picture books, as well.
  • When I’m on vacation and go into libraries myself, I’m always happy when I see that a library has a subscription to a GLBTQ magazine.
  • If yours does not, consider this the next time you do a “subject needs” request or order subscribe to a new periodical.
  • When I asked staff for feedback about what they would like to see included in this training, the question that came up the most is how to address trans customers.

    I’ve found, for myself, that it’s best to avoid “Sir” or “Ma’am.” [Ellen story]
  • Racial and ethnic communities have widely varying responses to GLBTQ issues. People in these communities need resources that address their needs as GLBTQ individuals within these communities. And remember--not all GLBTQ people read English! Are there books on GLBTQ topics in your world language collections?
  • If you remember only one resource for local GLBTQ information, make it OutFront, where you can find answers to questions like:

    What’s the history of efforts to pass same-sex marriage in Minnesota, and where do marriage rights in the state stand now?

    How do I get my gender changed on my birth certificate and Minnesota driver’s license?

    I’m a teacher concerned about anti-GLBTQ bullying in my class. Is there a guide for talking about this with my students?

    Which local towns have domestic partner registries?

    What are some GLBTQ-friendly places of worship in Hennepin County?

    Are there any job openings in local GLBTQ organizations?

    What resources are there for GLBTQ parents in this area?

    I’m GLBTQ and Hmong. Are there any organizations in the community for people like me?
  • Serving Our GLBTQ Customers (at the Library)

    1. 1. Serving Our GLBTQ Customers presented by Emily Lloyd with panelists Brad Froslee, Abby Henderson, and Ben Weiss
    2. 2. Who is included in the “GLBTQ Community”?
    3. 3. In the narrower sense, the GLBTQ* community refers to those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, or queer/questioning. *sometimes written LGBTQ
    4. 4. Sex = biological, physiological • Female = XX • Male = XY • Intersexed = neither XX nor XY (approximately 1 in 1,666 births) World champion runner and intersexed person Caster Semenya
    5. 5. Gender = “the socially-constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate.” •Can differ from culture to culture •Pink/blue, shaving/not shaving… •Socializing into gender begins at birth in most countries •It bothers many people not to be able to tell instantly what someone’s gender is (Why?)
    6. 6. More about the “T” • “Transsexual” usually refers to people who have undergone or are looking to undergo sex reassignment surgery • Transgender: broader term • Today: increasing number of people who are “out” as trans
    7. 7. More about the “Q” • “Queer” can also describe one's politics • “Queer”—with a few exceptions for usage—is no longer a slur
    8. 8. If a customer asks for “queer books” or the “queer section,” etc., staff should feel comfortable using the word “queer” with the customer. Example: “We don’t have a queer section per se, but we do have some GLBTQ book lists I can show you.”
    9. 9. Can I just say “GLBT,” without the “Q”? People will still know what you mean, but many find it less welcoming and less inclusive. What's a “GBLT”? A bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich with guacamole
    10. 10. What percentage of the general population is GLBTQ? A recent national study found that 8% of men identify as gay or bisexual, and 7% of women identify as lesbian or bisexual.
    11. 11. Top Ten U.S. Metropolitan Areas Ranked by the Estimated Percentage of Adults who are Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual* 1. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont Metro Area: 8.2% Largest City: 15.4% 2. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Metro Area: 6.5% Largest City: 12.9% 3. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy Metro Area: 6.2% Largest City: 12.3% 4. Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton Metro Area: 6.1% Largest City: 8.8% 5. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metro Area: 5.9% Largest City 6.1% 6. Austin-Round Rock Metro Area 5.9% Largest City: 4.8% 7. Denver-Aurora Metro Area: 5.8% Largest City: 8.2% 8. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metro Area: 5.7% Largest City: 12.5% 9. Orlando-Kissimmee Metro Area: 5.7% Largest City: 7.7% 10. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford Metro Area: 5.6% Largest City: 6.8% There are currently “no concrete statistics on the number of transgender people in the U.S.” –Human Rights Campaign Fund, 2010
    12. 12. • Twin Cities Pride festival third is third largest in U.S. • Benefits for MN public employees’ partners prohibited by state law (Statute 471.61) • GLBTQ-related hate crimes on the rise (+364% since 2006) • In Hennepin County, Edina and Minneapolis have domestic partner registries Photo by Wendy Berry
    13. 13. When it comes to library (and other public) services, the broader GLBTQ community includes: • children of GLBTQ parents, • parents of GLBTQ children, • heterosexual spouses of GLBTQ people who may be coming out later in life, and • anyone linked in a close way to a GLBTQ person and who may be seeking GLBTQ-related resources for reasons other than academic research.
    14. 14. For the first time, we have a sizable GLBTQ 55+ population who have spent their lives “out” as GLBTQ. • biggest issues for this group: health, community, finance
    15. 15. When providing services or programming to 55+ customers, don’t forget that this group includes GLBTQ people. • Remember when booktalking at senior centers or reviewing books for the At Home Reader • Remember when creating a financial or retirement- themed display • Remember when assessing your library’s collection needs, especially in health and financial planning
    16. 16. More GLBTQ people are coming out at a younger age. • Often told they can’t “know” yet • Harassment levels higher in middle school than high school • Why come out, if it’s dangerous? Being closeted is isolating. New York Times Magazine, 9/23/09
    17. 17. More GLBTQ people are coming out later in life, too. •Many have been in straight marriages •Heterosexual spouses may be looking for coping resources, as may adult children just now learning a parent is GLBTQ
    18. 18. Rise in GLBTQ Parenting 1990: 1 in 5 lesbian and 1 in 20 gay male couples raising children 2000: 1 in 3 lesbian and 1 in 5 gay male couples raising children 2010???
    19. 19. GLBTQs and the Library • Libraries have a long history as the place many people first seek information about being GLBTQ • Some now turn first to the web, but libraries remain an important source
    20. 20. Customers searching for GLBTQ materials may be less likely to ask a librarian for help Catalog subject headings don’t make GLBTQ materials easy to find + = Findability issues
    21. 21. Results of catalog subject search on “transgender” :
    22. 22. Results of catalog subject search on “queer”:
    23. 23. As titles change far more quickly than subject headings, a title keyword search on “queer” with a limit to “Adult” yields much better results:
    24. 24. Book lists that are easy for customers to find on their own are essential.
    25. 25. Staff should know by heart where to find the lists, too.
    26. 26. Picture books with GLBTQ content are often cataloged and shelved with Children’s Fiction, not Easy Fiction. Browsers aren’t likely to find them.
    27. 27. To little kids in GLBTQ families, there is nothing “mature” or PG-rated about having two moms or dads.
    28. 28. How can we help people find these hard-to-find books? • That’s right: booklists again • Face-outs on the shelves—don’t be afraid to choose a GLBTQ book as a face-out • Displays (picture books about families, etc)
    29. 29. Yes, picture books that contain GLBTQ characters are often accused of “promoting” homosexuality. It is important for libraries to remember that…
    30. 30. Having an adequate, visible GLBTQ collection is not “promoting" homosexuality— it is serving our community.
    31. 31. You have more GLBTQ customers than you think you do. We have more GLBTQ resources than GLBTQ customers think we do.
    32. 32. Programming/Outreach Ideas • GLBTQ Author Events (Adult, Teen) • Anti-Bullying Programming • Teen GLBTQ Book Club (Online?) • Storytimes for GLBTQ Families • Pride Month GLBTQ Poetry Reading (done in past at Central with Intermedia Arts) • Contact your local high school's/middle school’s Gay-Straight Alliance and offer to email book lists/come in and book talk • Pride Month Panel Discussion: GLBTQ Leaders of Different Faiths JUNE is National GLBTQ Pride Month OCTOBER is National GLBTQ History Month OCTOBER 11th is National Coming Out Day
    33. 33. Being a more visible GLBTQ community resource—things to consider: • HCL booth at Twin Cities Pride Festival • Safe Space stickers • Being visibly supportive as individuals working the desk (lanyard buttons, etc)
    34. 34. KNOW where resources are in case anyone asks. MAKE resources easy to find in case nobody does.
    35. 35. “As a GLBTQ public library customer, I feel welcomed when…” In emails to several local GLBTQ groups, I asked folks to complete the above sentence. Here are some of the responses I got:
    36. 36. Customer: “My family and I feel welcomed when a librarian refers to my child’s ‘parents’ rather than her ‘mom and dad’.” Take away: Always ask children where their “adult” is, rather than mother or father. Many families, not just GLBTQ ones, don’t include a mother and a father, so this is a preferred practice all around.
    37. 37. Customer: “I wish my local library carried more GLBTQ children's books. I seem to always need to request them from the two biggest branches.” Customer: “When there is a copy of a gay newspaper or magazine with the other newspapers and magazines.”
    38. 38. Take away: Be mindful that there are GLBTQ customers at every one of HCL’s 41 libraries. There is nothing obscure or esoteric about GLBTQ-related material. While some libraries will necessarily have larger collections, every library should have “the basics.”
    39. 39. Customer: “I feel welcomed when my gender expression is met with acceptance and appropriate pronouns.” Trans etiquette: If a person is clearly presenting herself as female, use female pronouns (and vice versa). If you are introducing someone and are not certain which pronouns she or he would prefer, ask beforehand. (“Which pronoun do you prefer?” is fine) If you make a mistake, apologize and remember for next time.
    40. 40. Customer: “As a Bisexual Hmong woman, I would like my library to offer Hmong LGBTQ-specific material.” Customer: "I want to know if my local library offers resources for me as a gay person of color." Takeaway: One GLBTQ book or resource does not fit all.
    41. 41. Local Resources You can find these in the Diversity Toolbox on the Staff Web:
    42. 42. Are you prepared to answer the following reference questions on GLBTQ issues in Minnesota? • How do I get my gender changed on my birth certificate and Minnesota driver’s license? • What’s the history of efforts to pass same-sex marriage in Minnesota, and where do marriage rights in the state stand now? • What are some GLBTQ-friendly places of worship in Hennepin County? • Are there any job openings in local GLBTQ organizations? • What resources are there for GLBTQ parents in this area?
    43. 43. Yes. OutFront ( = top resource for local information
    44. 44. Other local organizations to know: • PFLAG (Parents & Friends of Lesbians & Gays)-- Twin Cities Chapter –meetings, resources, and active online social network (Ning) • Family Equality Council (Rainbow Families) –annual conference, camp, social events for GLBTQ families, school advocacy resources, book lists, etc. • District 202 –organization for GLBTQ youth • Trans Youth Support Network • Avenues for Homeless Youth –includes GLBT Host Home Program • The Naming Project –faith-based organization for GLBTQ youth • Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition • Quatrefoil Library in St. Paul ("We're like your gay public library") • Out4Good (Minneapolis Public Schools)
    45. 45. Recommended Reading and Viewing • The Heterosexual Questionnaire • LGBT Elders Go Back into Closet to Survive • "It Gets Better" Project at YouTube • Jeff Sheng's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Photography Project • Assessing Agency GLBT Cultural Competence (from Every Family Matters) • Videos by Children of GLBTQ Parents (at COLAGE)
    46. 46. Thank you. Questions?
    47. 47. Sources • OutFront MN: Issue Paper on Employee Benefits • Long Invisible, Gay Seniors Seek Respect, Services (Newsweek) • "The School Issue: Coming Out in Middle School" (New York Times Magazine) • Women Coming Out Later in Life Finding More Acceptance (Star Tribune) • National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior • Middle School LGBT Students Face Extreme Levels of Harassment, Higher than Their High School Peers, Research Brief Finds (GLSEN) • Same-sex Couples and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Population (Williams Institute)