Librarian, coffee addict and lover of all things nerdy
In an age of shrinking budgets, tough decisions and political tensions, libraries must have a strong justification for LGBTQ youth services that is grounded in credible research if they are to stand up to challenges. My research examines why these services are essential in a world that is still unsafe for far too many queer identified youth, how to best engage with the community and what resources libraries can provide to young LGBTQ information seekers. Literacy and education theory were used as a foundation for the examination of the impact literacy has on the development of self through the formation of personal identity, the importance of mentors, and the opportunity for action. Current research about providing services to the LGBTQ community was examined for best practices and effective methods. The most important factors in successful services to the LGBTQ community are authentic and comfortable interactions, and the integration of queer and non/queer resources in reader’s advisory and reference response for all patrons. While statistics on bullying and homophobic remarks indicate that conditions are improving, LGBTQ teens are still at great risk for homelessness, depression and suicide. Libraries must do everything possible to provide a safe space for LGBTQ youth to build their identity and interact with the community.