A Community at Risk

2 min read

| By Gale Staff |

According to UCLA’s Williams Institute, 4 percent of America’s population identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. That is approximately thirteen million people—a minority far too large to ignore—and this vast community is at risk. The need for libraries to provide safe havens for LGBTQ persons is made clear by these statistics showing that they face discrimination at home, in the workplace, and in public.

The situation may be even more troubling for LGBTQ youth, according to these statistics from the 2015 GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) National School Climate Survey. LGBTQ children and young adults, who make up 5.6 percent of the student population in the United States, face a depressingly hostile environment during the most vulnerable years of their lives.

All of these people are, in one way or another, victims of ignorance. If knowledge is power—a claim publicly embraced by Chicago’s Gerber/Hart Library and Archives, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ circulating library—librarians can become important allies who empower the LGBTQ community with information and resources (in the form of print and digital books and media) and provide them with a welcoming, inclusive environment.

Fortunately, libraries are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of this population with dignity and respect. That’s why we partnered with Booklist to produce a piece on the library being more than a safe space. Our new white paper highlights the ways libraries can acquire, provide, and promote the appropriate services and resources needed to support LGBTQ persons while providing safe spaces and effecting change in their broader communities. Download the full white paper >> 

As Ann K. Symons and John “Mack” Freeman wrote in the June 24, 2015, issue of American Libraries:

“We must serve everyone who lives, works, and learns in our communities, and all librarians should be LGBTQ allies. This requires making an effort to provide equal service to all, no matter who your patrons are—or whom they love.”

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