LBGTQ+ Books Within Middle School Libraries and How Librarians Promote These LGBTQ+ Books to Students

LBGTQ+ Books Within Middle School Libraries and How Librarians Promote These LGBTQ+ Books to Students

Kristal Elaine Vallie (Texas A&M University, Commerce, USA) and Susan Szabo (Texas A&M University, Commerce, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1404-7.ch010
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This mixed methods study allowed the researchers to explore the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ+) materials available in public middle school libraries and to interview six middle school librarians about their perceptions on “caring about and caring for” in order to provide middle school students with LGBTQ+ books. The study took place in one Texas school district. The quantitative data came from the middle school libraries' online database to determine how many LGBTQ+-themed young-adult books were found in each of the 12 school libraries. The findings revealed that the middle-school libraries offered very few LGBTQ+-themed books for students to checkout. The qualitative data came from interviewing six middle school librarians. Their stories revealed two critical themes toward LGBTQ+ books within their school library: (1) librarians' perceptions and reactions to students' needs and (2) librarians' perceptions and reactions regarding silence within the district.
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Nine million Americans, approximately 3.5% of the population, have identified themselves as being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (Gates, 2011). Additionally, three million gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are coming out as early as middle school, and 20% of all adolescents have some degree of same-sex orientation (Whelan, 2006). However, according to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) executive director, Eliza Byard, LGBTQ+ adolescents have continued to experience on-going homophobic and transphobic harassment in schools.

Additionally, the most recent data from GLSEN’s 2017 climate survey indicated that schools across the U.S. are still hostile environments for LGBTQ+ students, causing many students to avoid or miss school entirely (Kosciw, Greytak, Zongrone, Clark, & Truong, 2018). Furthermore, LGBTQ+ adolescents experience a higher rate of rejection, depression, and prejudice in schools (Blackburn & McCready, 2009; Kosciw et al., 2018). All students, including LGBTQ+ students, deserve equal access to education, yet LGBTQ+ students face unique obstacles to their academic success (Kosciw, Greytak, Giga, Villenas, & Danischewski, 2016). Thus, it is important to advocate for safe, caring, and healthy learning environments for all students in order to promote equity and respect for all students in our schools.

Two important factors that can increase success for LGBTQ+ students are supportive school staff and access to resources that can support them, including resources with LGBTQ+-related topics (Kosciw et al., 2018). Thus, one purpose of this study was to look at the access to LGBTQ+-themed books to see if middle school libraries provide LGBTQ+ young adult books in their libraries for students to check out. This is an important issue because as school librarians improve book selections of LGBTQ+ literature, tolerance and acceptance of LGBTQ+ students could increase, which would help LGBTQ+ students to thrive and excel in safe, caring, nurturing environments (Alexander & Miselis, 2007; Kosciw et al., 2016; Rauch, 2011).

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