I’m Coming Out: The Ins and Outs of Serving GLBTQ Teens - Nov 2009


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An overview of serving GLBTQ teens in a public library setting

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  • I’m Coming Out: The Ins and Outs of Serving GLBTQ Teens - Nov 2009

    1. 1. I’m Coming Out: The Ins and Outs of Serving GLBTQ Teens Monica Harris Oak Park Public Library 11.20.09
    2. 2. Beginning at the Beginning • What does GLBTQ mean? • Why the words matter • Terminology o Homosexual o Lifestyle
    3. 3. More Definitions (adapted from Serving LBGT and Q Teens by Hillias J. Martin and James R. Murdoch, 2007) • Transgender o People who dress or behave in a way that differs from traditional gender expectations • Transsexual o People who seek hormone therapy and reassignment surgery to change their sex. • Intersex o People who are born with the sexual organs of both sexes
    4. 4. More Definitions (cont.) • Queer o Traditionally meant sexually deviant or abnormal. Gays and lesbians began reclaiming the word in the 1980s o Today considered the most inclusive terms to encompass lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and trans people. • Gender o Construct that reflects society’s expectations of how someone of a given sex should look, act and behave. o Broken down: sex is biological, gender is social
    5. 5. Symbols of Pride • Pink Triangle o Now a gay rights and gay pride symbol. o Was originally used to identify gay men as a Nazi concentration camp flag. • Rainbow Flag o Represents the diversity of gays and lesbians around the world. o Greater use after the 1978 assassination of politician Harvey Milk
    6. 6. Why Focus on GLBTQ Teens? • The average coming out age is now 13 years old according to a recent study reported in the Florida Sun- Sentinal (October 11th, 2006). • Boys’ average age when coming out is slightly lower, while girls’ average age is slightly higher.
    7. 7. Why Focus on GLBTQ Teens? • Roughly 5 to 6 percent of teens in the US identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. • The population of questioning teens is even larger, with nearly 20 percent of teens having engaged in sexual behavior with someone of the same sex. • GLBTQ teens live in every community: urban, suburban, and rural.
    8. 8. Why Focus on GLBTQ Teens? • While trying to deal with all the challenges of being a teen, GLBTQ teens additionally have to deal with harassment, threats, and violence directed at them on a daily basis. • They hear anti-gay slurs such as "homo", "faggot" and "sissy" about 26 times a day or once every 14 minutes
    9. 9. Why Focus on GLBTQ Teens? • A recent study found that thirty-one percent of gay youth had been threatened or injured at school in the last year alone. • The Safe Schools Coalition Web site notes that research done for the FBI in 1998 found that these GLBTQ teenagers make up 30 to 40 percent of the nation's homeless youths.
    10. 10. Why Focus on GLBTQ Teens? • Research has found that the people who have the most positive attitudes toward gay men, lesbians and bisexuals are those who say they know one or more gay, lesbian or bisexual person well—often as a friend or co-worker. • Exposure of the public towards gay characters in movies, television, and books often offers a new perspective on the humanity of the GLBTQ community.
    11. 11. A New Generation • 75% of teens approve of civil unions or marriage for gays and lesbians, while only 20 to 27% of adults approve. • More LGBT characters and reality programs are available in popular media – although they still make up only 3% of broadcast TV characters in the 2009-2010 season (GLAAD). o http://www.thrfeed.com/2009/09/s tudy-gay-characters-on- broadcast-reach-alltime-high.html
    12. 12. Media Stereotypes and the New Debates • Does it matter if the media portrays so many gay characters as "fey"? • Lesbians on television face different issues • Important to remember that not every LGBTQ person will fall under the umbrella of people we see on television.
    13. 13. Where is the Library’s Role in This? • Homophobia often manifests in isolation and fear for many queer teens o Likely to have smaller social networks than other teens o Fear of rejection or retribution from parents • Access to books, magazines, and online resources can break the silence and know they are not alone. • Reading is a personal and private activity
    14. 14. What is the Library’s Role in This? • LGBTQ teens are looking for role models o “I know there are a lot of bisexual people but you just can’t find them because there’s always that fear. A book is like a substitute for the real thing and its good enough. Well, for me it is.”  -14 year old teen interviewed for Serving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens.
    15. 15. What does Your Community Need? • What’s right for my library may not be right for yours • You know your community best o Do a survey o Review the research • Only 20% of teens surveyed felt safe from harassment in the library • Remember that branches and small collections still need more than one or two titles. • Biggest divide is not red state/blue state, but urban/rural
    16. 16. More Great Books to Explore
    17. 17. Building Your Collection (adapted from SLJ, January 2006) • Start with good quality and current bibliographies. • Talk to other librarians and professionals serving GLBTQ teens about their suggestions.
    18. 18. Building Your Collection • Support your selections with good reviews. • Make sure your kids can find them with good cataloging and bibliographies available in your library and on your website.
    19. 19. Building Your Collection • Include gay titles in booktalks and summer reading lists. • Make the books accessible to teens, but don’t label them with rainbows or pink triangles.
    20. 20. Building Your Collection • Have collection development and book-challenge policies in place so that everyone knows the proper procedures. • Trust yourself, and don’t be afraid. You know your community best, so do what will work in your library.
    21. 21. What is Still Missing from YA GLBTQ Fiction? • GLBTQ titles featuring people of color – especially African American boys and men • YA books featuring gay to lesbian characters are published at approximately a 3-to-1-ratio. • Bisexual characters (particularly male) • Trans identities (although that has started to change) • More titles featuring joy and humor
    22. 22. What’s Still Missing? • Periodicals o YGA (Young Gay America) no longer in print o Not other print publication to fill the void at deadline
    23. 23. Why don’t libraries offer (more) LGBTQ material? • Fear of challenges • Fear of losing funding over controversy • Assuming ILL availability • Lack of awareness or denial of the population
    24. 24. Preparing for a Challenge • GLBTQ books are among those most frequently challenged • Provide for balance o Point/Counterpoint series by Chelsea House • Consult your library’s collection development plan • Be prepared to explain that your collection strives for balance • Know who is working with individuals to take books out of libraries o PABBIS (Parents Against Bad Books in Schools)
    25. 25. What Would You Do?
    26. 26. Self evaluation • How many LGBTQ titles can you name off the top of your head? • How many subject headings for a catalog search can you name off the top of your head? • Which supporting organizations in your community can you name? • Note which LBGTQ titles you have and which are available in the branches. • Look at the atmosphere of your library- from visibility of your titles and displays to staff body language
    27. 27. Creating a Safe Space • Visibility and Integration • No assumptions • Respect Teen Privacy • No Hate Language Allowed • http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/educ
    28. 28. Promotion • GLBTQ History month is celebrated in October. • National Day of Silence (April 18th) youth-run day to commemorate and protest anti-LGBT bullying, harassment, and discrimination in schools. • Pride is typically celebrated in the month of June.
    29. 29. Promotion • Over 10% of high schools now have recognized Gay- Straight Alliance clubs. See if your high school has one, and partner with them if they do. • Remember diversity and sensitivity in all of your promotional material for the library.
    30. 30. Great Resources • Martin, Hillias J., and James R. Murdoch. Serving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens. 1st ed. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2007. • Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults 2006 – GLBTQ: http://www.ala.org/ala/yalsa/booklistsawards/popularpaperback/06ppya.htm • Alex Sanchez’s Great Gay Teen Books: http://www.alexsanchez.com/gay_teen_books.htm • The Safe Schools Coalition: http://www.safeschoolscoalition.org/ • Pink Books: http://www.pinkbooks.com/
    31. 31. More Resources • Rainbow Project’s Awards for books 2005-07 http://www.myspace.com/rainbow_list • Matthew’s Place. A support site for GLBTQ Youth http://www.matthewsplace.com/ • Supporting Gay Teen Literature by David Levithan (2004): http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA456885. html
    32. 32. More Resources • Databases and Tools o GenderWatch (ProQuest) o GLBT Life (Ebsco) o GLBTQ Encyclopedia (www.glbtq.com) • National Organizations o Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) www.glsen.org o Human Rights Campaign www.hrc.org o National Youth Advocacy Coalition www.nyacyouth.org o PFLAG: Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (www.pflag.org) o Safe Schools Coalition www.safeschoolscoalition.org
    33. 33. References • Cloud, John. "The Battle Over Gay Teens." Time 02 October 2005 http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1112856,00.html • Safe Schools Coalition. March 2007. Safe Schools Coalition. 27 Mar 2007 http://www.safeschoolscoalition.org/ • Martin, Hillias J., and James R. Murdoch. Serving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens. 1st ed. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2007. • Whelan, Debra Lau. "Out and Ignored." School Library Journal 01 January 2006 20 03 2007 http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6296527.html
    34. 34. Questions? Contact Me Monica Harris Assistant Manager of Adult and Teen Services mharris@oppl.org http://www.opplteen.org/