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Serving Our GLBTQ Customers (at the Library)

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Published in: Career, Spiritual
  • 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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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 (outfront.org) = 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? elloyd@hclib.org
  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)

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