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Libraries as Allies: 50 Years after Stonewall

By Maureen Schlangen

On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. At the time, its patrons — mostly gay, lesbian, transgender and  other sexual identities — were frequently the subject of police harassment. That night, the raid prompted a protest. United in outrage over not just persistent discrimination, but also witnessing employees’ and patrons’ arrests, patrons and bystanders rose up in vocal and violent opposition. The five days of riots that followed are considered the birth of the gay rights movement.

A lot has changed since Stonewall. Same-sex marriage is now recognized nationwide, and the Pew Research Center found that support of it has nearly doubled to 61 percent since 2004; 74 percent of people born between 1981 and 1996 now favor marriage equality (read more of the findings from the 2019 fact sheet).

In another report, the Pew Research Center found that millennials (born 1981 to 1996) and those in Generation Z (born after 1996) are two to five times more familiar with the use of gender-neutral pronouns than the generations that precede them (read the full summary).

Yet negative bias toward people of gay, lesbian, transgender and other sexual identities persists:

  • The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found that while average levels of acceptance for LGBT people and rights have increased globally since 1980, acceptance has become more polarized.
  • A Harris Poll released by the anti-discrimination organization GLAAD in 2018 recorded the first decline in support for LGBTQ populations in the survey’s four years.
  • The Harris Poll also recorded a significant jump in LGBTQ respondents experiencing discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation; from 2016 to 2017, it jumped 11 points (25 percent) to 55 percent.
  • The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization, says lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are still more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, and nearly half of all transgender people have attempted suicide — many before the age of 25.
  • More than half of the titles on the American Library Association’s 11 most challenged books of 2018 were challenged because of LGBTQIA+ content.

Libraries: Allies

The University of Dayton Libraries join the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and other library-affiliated organizations in advancing knowledge, preventing censorship and improving access to information:

Need resources? Just ask

For more resources or for assistance finding them, stop by the services desk on the second floor of Roesch Library or use one of the following methods:

— Maureen Schlangen is an e-scholarship and communications manager in the University Libraries.

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