Libraries can serve gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people by ensuring that this population is reflected in library collections and provided with services at the library. As a population which is often the subject of discrimination and harassment, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people can benefit from the access to information which libraries provide and the sense of community which library programs can help foster.
GLBT Populations in the U.S.
Determining the total population of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the United States can be difficult. The U.S. Census and American Community Survey data on coupled households provide some of the most cited information on the population.
- According to the Williams Institute’s analysis of 2010 Census data, there are 901,997 same-sex couples living in the United States represented in 99% of U.S. Counties.
- The Williams Institute’s analysis of U.S. Census and American Community Survey data found that from 2000 to 2005, the population of same-sex couples grew by more than 30%, increasing from nearly 600,000 couples to almost 770,000, with the largest percentage increases occurring in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Ohio.
- The Williams Institute reports that analyses from the National Survey of Family Growth find that 4.1% of men and women aged 18-45 identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. According to the Institute, if 4.1% of all adults identify as such, then an estimated 8.8 million adults are gay, lesbian, or bisexual in the United States.
It is important to note that the GLBT population is diverse, spanning age groups, ethnic and racial groups, socio-economic groups, and personal identities.
Equity of Access Issues for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People
The Library Bill of Rights affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas and provides for access to information for all people.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender peoples’ access to libraries may be limited or prohibited by many issues, including:
- Collections which do not present GLBT content or perspectives. GLBT materials can often be censored under partisan or doctrinal disapproval
- Environments which are not welcoming or inclusive of GLBT people and which, through actions by staff or other patrons, may be made unwelcome to GLBT people and their families
- Programs which do not address the GLBT experience
- Services which are not promoted to GLBT populations or in collaborations with local GLBT organizations
Selected ALA Resources for Serving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People
- Bibliography for Gay Teens Used in the "Gay Teens in The 21st Century: Access To The Future" Preconference
- Infographic on School Libraries' LGBT Outreach to Counteract Bullying (prepared in conjunction with “They Kind of Rely on the Library”: School Librarians Serving LGBT Students" by Shannon M. Oltmann.
- GLBT Resource for Children: A Bibliography
- Over the Rainbow Book List
- Rainbow Project Book List
- Stonewall Book Awards
ALA Member Groups
- The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association (GLBTRT)
Selected ALA Policies for Serving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People
- Policy 53.1.15 Access to Library Resources and Services Regardless of Sex, Gender, Identity, or Sexual Orientation
Contact and Questions
Questions? Comments? If you would like to share questions or comments on ALA’s resources for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, please contact ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy Services at 800.545.2433, ext. 4294, or email@example.com.