Monday, May 16, 2016

Advocating and Integrating: LGBTQ lit in school libraries up to par?

Hughes-Hassell, S., Overberg, E., & Harris, S. (2013). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ)-Themed Literature for Teens: Are School Libraries Providing Adequate Collections?. School Library Research, 161-18.

In their study of 125 high schools throughout the southeastern United States, Hassel, Overberg and Harris came to a few important, and perhaps surprising conclusions regarding materials for and by LGBTQ community members.

#1     While it is probably no surprise that the high schools studied were generally undercollecting LGBTQ-themed materials, many libraries failed to properly tag or catalog their LGBTQ themed titles so they were nearly impossible to find through the catalog.

#2      LGBTQ Biographies were found to be especially lacking in high school collections.  While identifying with fictional characters can be self-affirming, reading about individuals who have braved and survived a homophobic world can be incredibly empowering to queer students.  Let's step it up!

#3      School libraries are called to uphold curriculum and support state standards.  As it stands, nearly all states have adopted comprehensive reproductive health curriculum that includes LGBTQ health-related issues, yet most of the high schools in the study had none or very few materials related to LGBTQ health issues.  For this reason alone school libraries have a responsibility to provide health and sexuality information.  Reproductive health, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation are topics that fall within any high school health course.  We can do better and we are obliged to.

J. Hasselberger
Spring 2016

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