Definition from the World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/topics/gender/en/
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)
with panelists Brad Froslee,
Abby Henderson, and Ben Weiss
In the narrower sense, the GLBTQ*
community refers to those who
identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual,
transgendered, or queer/questioning.
*sometimes written LGBTQ
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
“the socially-constructed roles, behaviors,
activities, and attributes that a given society
•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?)
More about the “T”
• “Transsexual” usually
refers to people who have
undergone or are looking
to undergo sex
• Transgender: broader
• Today: increasing
number of people who
are “out” as trans
More about the “Q”
• “Queer” can also describe
• “Queer”—with a few
exceptions for usage—is
no longer a slur
If a customer asks for “queer books” or
the “queer section,” etc., staff should feel
comfortable using the word “queer” with
Example: “We don’t have a queer section
per se, but we do have some GLBTQ
book lists I can show you.”
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
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.
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
• 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
When it comes to library (and other public)
services, the broader GLBTQ community
• 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.
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
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-
• Remember when assessing your library’s collection
needs, especially in health and financial planning
More GLBTQ people are coming out at a
• Often told they can’t
• Harassment levels
higher in middle school
than high school
• Why come out, if it’s
closeted is isolating.
New York Times Magazine, 9/23/09
More GLBTQ people are coming out later in
•Many have been in
may be looking for
coping resources, as
may adult children just
now learning a parent is
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
GLBTQs and the Library
• Libraries have a long
history as the place many
people first seek
information about being
• Some now turn first to the
web, but libraries remain
an important source
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
Results of catalog subject
search on “transgender” :
As titles change far more quickly than subject headings, a
title keyword search on “queer” with a limit to “Adult” yields
much better results:
Book lists that are easy for customers to
find on their own are essential.
Staff should know by heart where to find the lists, too.
Picture books with GLBTQ content are often
cataloged and shelved with Children’s Fiction,
not Easy Fiction.
Browsers aren’t likely to find them.
To little kids in GLBTQ families, there is
nothing “mature” or PG-rated about having
two moms or dads.
How can we help people find
these hard-to-find books?
• That’s right: booklists
• Face-outs on the
afraid to choose a
GLBTQ book as a
• Displays (picture books
about families, etc)
Yes, picture books that contain GLBTQ
characters are often accused of “promoting”
It is important
Having an adequate, visible
GLBTQ collection is not
it is serving our community.
You have more GLBTQ customers
than you think you do.
We have more GLBTQ resources
than GLBTQ customers think we do.
• 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
OCTOBER is National GLBTQ
OCTOBER 11th is
National Coming Out Day
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)
KNOW where resources are
in case anyone asks.
MAKE resources easy to find
in case nobody does.
“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:
“My family and I feel welcomed when a librarian
refers to my child’s ‘parents’ rather than her ‘mom
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.
“I wish my local library carried more GLBTQ
children's books. I seem to always need to
request them from the two biggest
“When there is a copy of a gay newspaper or
magazine with the other newspapers and
Be mindful that there are GLBTQ customers at
every one of HCL’s 41 libraries.
There is nothing obscure or esoteric about
While some libraries will necessarily have
larger collections, every library should have
“I feel welcomed when my gender expression is
met with acceptance and appropriate pronouns.”
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
“As a Bisexual Hmong woman, I would like my
library to offer Hmong LGBTQ-specific material.”
"I want to know if my local library offers
resources for me as a gay person of color."
One GLBTQ book or resource does not fit all.
You can find these in the Diversity Toolbox
on the Staff Web:
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
• What are some GLBTQ-friendly places of worship in Hennepin
• Are there any job openings in local GLBTQ organizations?
• What resources are there for GLBTQ parents in this area?
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)
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)
• 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)