All Black Lives Matter: Mental Health of Black LGBTQ Youth

 *A version of this post will appear in the BCALA Newsletter. 

Mental Health is not getting the attention it deserves. It is being overshadowed by COVID-19 and many other disparities in this country.  Mental health is a vital conversation that needs to be addressed even before the pandemic. It is misdiagnosed and is not really referred to as a medical condition. When mental health is discussed, it is based on the context of adults, right? What about young people between the ages of 13-24? Young people’s mental health concerns are just as high as those of adults if not higher. How does this pertain to librarianship?  We are faced with many populations that walk through our doors that are struggling on a daily basis without realizing it. We serve a great population of youth that look happy and may be experiencing some form of trauma. This is important if you are involved with trauma-informed librarianship. These statistics mentioned in this report can be vital to research for anyone who needs it.

The Trevor Project took the discussion even further when they conducted a survey on LGBTQ+ youth and mental health.  They took it even further when discussing the intersectionality of African American LGBTQ+ youth and mental health.  The Trevor Project, based on an award winning short film, Trevor, is a national organization providing crisis intervention for the LGBTQ+ youth community. 

According to the Trevor Project:

Black LGBTQ youth report rates of mental health challenges comparable to or higher than the overall population of LGBTQ youth. These youth are confronted with risk factors that are not only similar to those of other LGBTQ youth but are also very different, such as racial discrimination. Black transgender and nonbinary youth are particularly susceptible. We must confront systemic barriers to Black LGBTQ mental health and well-being.

For youth-serving organizations to be inclusive of Black LGBTQ youth, they must approach their work with the dual lenses of LGBTQ inclusion and anti-racism. Further, organizations working to support youth well-being must acknowledge that efforts to improve mental health cannot be “one-size-fits-all,” and, rather, must fit the needs of Black LGBTQ youth, both those that are similar to all LGBTQ youth and those that are unique. This is particularly true for Black transgender and nonbinary youth. Researchers must do more to prioritize the experiences of Black LGBTQ youth in order to inform best practices.

Did You Know…

According to the Trevor Project, statistics are as follows:

Black LGBTQ+ identified as…

  • 31% of Black LGBTQ+ youth identified as gay or lesbian, 35 % as bisexual, 20% as pansexual, and 9% as queer
  • One in three Black LGBTQ+ youth identified as transgender or nonbinary
  • More than 1 in 4 Black LGBTQ+ youth use pronouns or pronoun combinations that fall outside of the binary construction of gender.

Black LGBTQ+ youth often report mental health challenges, including suicidal ideation.

  • 44% of Black LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months, including 59% of Black transgender and nonbinary youth
  • 55% of Black LGBTQ youth reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder in the past two weeks, including 70% of Black transgender and nonbinary youth
  • 63% of Black LGBTQ+ youth report symptoms of major depressive disorder including 71% of Black transgender and nonbinary youth
  • Self-harm was reported in 44% of Black LBGTQ+ youth, including 61% of Black transgender and nonbinary youth
  • 49% of Black LGBTQ+ youth reported wanting psychological or emotional counseling from a mental health professional in the past 12 months, but not being able to get it

Many risk factors for Black LGBTQ+ youth mental health.

  • 9% of Black LGBTQ+ youth reported having undergone conversion therapy, with 82% reporting it happened before age 18
  • 35% of Black LGBTQ+ youth have experienced homelessness, been kicked out, or run away
  • 38% of Black LGBTQ+ youth reported discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity
  • 52% of Black LGBTQ+ youth reported discrimination based on their race or ethnicity
  • 17% of Black LGBTQ+ youth reported that they had been physically threatened or harmed in their lifetime due to their LGBTQ+ identity
  • 25% of Black transgender and nonbinary youth reported that they had been physically threatened or harmed in their lifetime due to their gender identity.

Identified high impact protective factors for Black LGBTQ+ youth.

  • 82% of Black LGBTQ+ youth reported at least one supportive person in their life
  • Black transgender and nonbinary youth who reported high family support had lower rates of attempted suicide
  • 82% of Black LGBTQ+ youth report access to at least one in-person LGBTQ+ LGBTQ+-affirming space
  • Black youth who had access to at least one LGBTQ+-affirming space attempted suicide at 50% lower rates compared to Black LGBTQ+ youth without access”

This Research Report was published in 2020.  To access this report for more information, please click on the link .

Additional Support Resources:

GLSEN

“As GLSEN was founded by a group of teachers in 1990, we knew that educators play key roles in creating affirming learning environments for LGBTQ youth. But as well as activating supportive educators, we believe in centering and uplifting student-led movements, which have powered initiatives like the Day of Silence, Ally Week, and more.”

BEAM (Black Emotional and Mental Health)

“We are a collective of advocates, yoga teachers, artists, therapists, lawyers, religious leaders, teachers, psychologists and activists committed to the emotional/mental health and healing of Black communities”

WeRNative

“We are a comprehensive health resource for Native youth, by Native youth, providing content and stories about the topics that matter most to them. We strive to promote holistic health and positive growth in our local communities and nation at large.”

Rest for Resistance

“Rest for Resistance strives to uplift marginalized communities, those who rarely get access to adequate health care or social support. This includes Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Pacific Islander, Asian, Middle Eastern, and multiracial persons.

We also seek to create healing space for LGBTQIA+ individuals, namely trans & queer people of color, as well as other stigmatized groups such as sex workers, immigrants, persons with physical and/or mental disabilities, and those living at the intersections of all of the above.”

The Steve Fund

“The Steve Fund is the nation’s leading organization focused on supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color.  The Steve Fund works with colleges and universities, non-profits, researchers, mental health experts, families, and young people to promote programs and strategies that build understanding and assistance for the mental and emotional health of the nation’s young people of color.”

 

Guest post by Monica Porter, Public Services Librarian, University of Michigan, University Library

Who am I? Monica Porter, Access and Public Services Librarian, University of Michigan, University Library.  I live in Ypsilanti, Michigan and originally from Detroit, Michigan.  I was a more mature MLIS student and earned my degree in 2017.   I  received my B.S. degree from Eastern Michigan University in 2014.  My major was English Language and minor African American Studies.

 I have a specialized area of 14-26 young adult services at University of Michigan, University Library in Ann Arbor. I was promoted to Assistant Librarian in February 2020 after being an Access Services Supervisor for the majority of my career at the university.   My unit work is Library Operations with the focus on Access Services.  I have worked at the University of Michigan Libraries for 18 years.  I also worked for Detroit Public Library for 15 years as a Senior Library Clerk and was a Substitute Librarian for Ypsilanti District Library.  

One of my current responsibilities is to develop programming with our campus partners, local youth community advocates and schools for young people, especially young people of Color to make sure they have the resources needed for success.

YALSA Advocacy: Resources to Stop Anti-AAPI Hate

On March 3, 2021, the Asian/Pacific American Librarian Association issued a statement condemning the attacks against Asian Americans due to racist misconceptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Young Adult Library Services Association wishes to join their sister organization in condemning these horrid attacks, and if you have civically-minded teenagers at your library, offer resources for them to take action themselves.

YALSA recognizes and strongly condemns the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes that have grown in intensity over the past year due to hate speech directed at the Asian community. Here at YALSA, we believe no one should be discriminated against due to their race, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

How can teen librarians support their patrons, and encourage teens of all races to stand up for each other? One of the most important issues can be recognizing racism, and figuring out what to do about it in the moment. Hollaback, a non-profit organization, has been offering free online trainings for how to disrupt and intervene when someone witnesses racism. This can be the first resource librarians hand out. While that training touches on the troubled history American has with Chinese immigrants, this article also provides a brief history, beginning with the way Chinese immigrants were painted as dirty and infectious to stir up anti-immigrant feelings and eventually exclude Chinese immigrants from voting or owning land.

Librarians can also host programs on racism. While her upcoming program isn’t specifically geared towards anti-AAPI racism, teen librarian Kim Iacucci from Fort Lee Library expects that it will come up naturally. She has scheduled a program titled Changing The World One Click At A Time: Teens And Activism In The Social Media Age. Fort Lee is a heavily Asian-American city right outside New York City, and held a Stop Asian Hate rally that drew a large crowd. She’s also working on a program for the library that’s about anti-Asian racism for all ages. 

Every teen should be able to come to the library and feel safe and protected. Being able to intervene, or even say that we see their struggle could mean the world to a teen struggling through the strangest year of their lives.

 

Posted by Stacey Shapiro, YALSA Board Advocacy.

YALS Spring 2021 Issue: Call for Articles

Article proposals for the Spring 2021 issue of YALS are currently being sought. The theme is Race(ism).

Prospective articles should provide broad and specific discussions that address questions such as:

• How has your library addressed race and/or racism or microaggressions/implicit bias/etc?
• How do we train ourselves, especially in libraries, to recognize race and the harms that can be perpetrated against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)?
• What are the roles that BIPOC YA librarians can/do play in creating a safe space for teens in their libraries?
• How are BIPOC YA librarians helping to bring the issues of race, equity, diversity, inclusion, and/or social justice to the forefront in their libraries? Likewise, what are non-BIPOC YA librarians doing?
• Why are there so few YA librarians of color and how can we address this? (who recruits them, which libraries have been successful & how)
• How has your library taken a strong stance against racial injustice?
• What are teens’ thoughts on race as it relates to the library community and how can we provide guidance on the topic?
• Are there programs, presentations, or resources that your library or your teens have created centered around race?

Please note that this is a volunteer writing opportunity with no monetary compensation. YALSA has the right to first refusal.

Please submit article proposals by December 28, 2020 the extended deadline, February 1, 2021.

If you know someone who has experience on this topic and would be interested in writing for YALS or have questions, please contact YALS’ editor, Yolanda Hood at yhood@upei.ca.

“The Claudia Kishi Club” kicks off Media Literacy Week, Oct 26-30!

Hello members!

I wanted to draw your attention to an event that’s taking place next Monday, Oct 26 at 8pm ET/5pm PT to help kick off Media Literacy Week. YALSA is a member of the Media Literacy Alliance, created by NAMLE, the National Association for Media Literacy Education. The free event is a conversation with Sue Ding, filmmaker of “The Claudia Kishi Club”, along with cast members Sarah Khan and Phil Yu. The documentary is currently airing on Netflix.

This looks to be a really cool experience for people who grew up with The Baby Sitters Club and those who have engaged with it for the first time with the recent streaming series. The event is co-sponsored by YALSA, AASL, and the California Film Institute.

Thanks!

Todd Krueger, YALSA Immediate Past-President

Teen Services Competencies 7 – Cultural Competency and Responsiveness

YALSA Secretary Josie Watanabe of the Seattle Public Library is this month’s guest blogger. 

YALSA Board Training: Undoing Structural Racism by Schools’ Out Washington

I wanted to share what the YALSA Board was up to over Midwinter!  If you keep up with ALA, you will know that this Midwinter meeting was filled with new ideas from SCOE and frank conversations about the ALA budget. All of this is really centered on the idea that libraries, library staff and our communities are asking for different support and pathways to do our work in new ways. YALSA has heard the call and over the last few years has created a strong EDI charge.

What is EDI you ask??? EDI is a huge topic that spans over mega conversations about equity, diversity and inclusion. The terminology is so broad it can mean many things to many people. Over the last few years YALSA has focused on diversity, and when the time came to write our new strategic plan, we had an ambitious charge: to center our work on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion by infusing it into every and all aspects of our new strategic plan. This was innovative and important work for YALSA and we knew it would entail a lot of learning and growing on our part.

To start with, YALSA Board wanted to have a firm grounding and understanding of institutional racism. Most of you have heard about the personal work we all need to undertake to undo racism—this encompasses understanding implicit bias, blind spots, anti-blackness, microaggressions, etc…. However the legacy and future power of racism exists at the institutional level, this includes the various policies and procedures that organizations create and enforce; and at the structural level where several organizations—schools, out-of-school learning organizations and other institutions work together to create systems where white people unfairly benefit because of the color of their skin.

This happens in housing, education, the criminal justice system, health, etc.  YALSA Board understands, as an institution, the power and impact we have on the library profession, staff and ultimately youth. Boards often control the budget and direct the work of Executive Director, they create policies and procedures that support the organization and spend much of the time making strategic decisions that will either move the work of the organization towards or away from their mission or EDI plan.  So, yeah—that’s a lot of responsibility—but it’s an amazing way to make change and most importantly institutional change!

This is exactly what we the YALSA Board determined was most important—we wanted to take our already powerful EDI plan and find new ways to deconstruct the policies, procedures and systems that keep our board, book lists, medals, workgroups, etc… homogeneous,  but we also wanted to actively create policies and procedures that would recruit diverse library staff to YALSA and remove barriers of participation.  One step in this direction included YALSA board spending some of our time at Midwinter with School’s Out Washington,  a leading out-of-school time organization that supports youth providers in positive youth development approaches, such as, Youth Program Quality Assessment, SEL (social emotional learning) and advancing racial equity.  The workshop they led was called Undoing Structural Racism and here are some of the big topics we discussed at the training:

  • Basic forms of racialization: internalized, interpersonal, institutional and structural
  • The history of structural racism through a short video clip: A Brief History of White Privilege, Racism and Oppression in America
  • The policies and practices that exemplify structural racism: redlining, public education system funded by property taxes, subprime lending, hiring practices and “stop and frisk” laws.
  • We often blame youth or families when we should be blaming systems.
  • Ongoing impact of structural racism: How structural racism plays out in health, wealth, schools and policing.
  • Racial Equity: A path forward and things to consider:
    • We live in a society where race matters.
    • We’re all part of the picture. None of us asked for this. The structure of race and racism were set up in the past. But still, all of us are responsible for the present and future.
    • As we sit here talking about race and racism, racism is playing out. We need to have these conversations, but we also need to take action on what we can influence to end racism.
  • How we can talk about race.
  • The Continuum on Becoming and Anti-Racist, Multi-Cultural Organization: Take a look at the link and see where your organization is on the continuum.

This was just a start and as a board—we committed to using a part of our monthly board chats to continue our learning and understanding of institutional racism by going through their materials. Follow along with the YALSA Board by reading and discussing these resources with your friends and workmates. Also consider the powerful work you can do by joining the YALSA Board. Check out our Board Fellow position to learn more about board service.

For Further Reading:

  • Why are all of the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations about Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • So You Want to Talk About Race? by ljeoma Oluo
  • Fakequity Blog

For Self-Work:

  • Me and White Supremacy-The Workbook by Layla F. Saad

For Working with Youth:

  • 1000 Black Girls Books Resource Guide by Marley Dias
  • Teaching Tolerance

For Work with your Colleagues:

——-

Thanks, Josie, for this excellent recap of our Board training and what was accomplished at last month’s Midwinter meeting in Philadelphia!

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter: @toddbcpl

New Issue of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults: Vol. 11 N. 1

Volume 11, Issue 1 of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults (JRLYA) is now available online. This issue features research papers about the health-related information needs of public library teen patrons, Australian authors’ OwnVoices, and teen novels featuring characters who identify as LGBTQIA+.

Acknowledging the lack of health reference training for many public librarians, Jennifer R. Banas, Michelle J. Oh, Robin Willard, and Jeremy Dunn examine public teen librarians’ ability to help their patrons search for and use health-related information.  The research team’s results demonstrate which types of health-related issues teen patrons ask about most often, which issues librarians feel most competent to help locate and use appropriate information, and which issues they feel least competent to handle. A replicable tool was also developed by the authors so that other public librarians might improve the health literacy of their communities.

Emily Booth and Bhuva Narayan interviewed seven Australian authors who identify as Indigenous Australian, a person of color, or a member of queer or disabled communities in order to understand the extent to which these authors feel their stories should be used as tools for learning about marginalized people’s experiences.  The authors’ findings illustrate the challenges and expectations that authors from marginalized communities encounter when adding their OwnVoice to the field of youth literature.

Identifying that literature for teens may be a source of learning about sexuality and sexual health for teens who identify as LGBTQIA+, Kristie Escobar interviewed such a group of teens who read books from the Rainbow Book List.  The teens were asked to reflect on the authenticity of the depictions of LGBTQIA+ characters and the extent to which the books fulfilled an information need they might have about sexuality or sexual health.  The author argues that literature about LGBTQIA+ teens may help fill a void left by sexual education that is traditionally abstinence-focused in publicly-funded high schools.

JRLYA is YALSA’s open-access, peer-reviewed research journal, located at: http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya. Its purpose is to enhance the development of theory, research, and practice to support young adult library services. JRLYApresents original research concerning: 1) the informational and developmental needs of teens; 2) the management, implementation, and evaluation of young adult library services; and 3) other critical issues relevant to librarians who work with teens. Writer’s guidelines are located at http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/author-guidelines/.

Robin A. Moeller, editor, JRLYA

New Issue of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults: Vol. 10 N. 2

Volume 10, Issue 2 of of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults (JRLYA) is now available online at http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/.This issue features research papers relating to public library teen youth services staff, cultural depictions in award-winning young adult literature, and the digital practices of teens.

With their paper,“Perspectives on Youth Data Literacy at the Public Library: Teen Services Staff Speak Out,” Leanne Bowler, Amelia Acker, and Yu Chi present data and analysis from the second phase of a three-year study exploring the relationship between teens and data literacy with regard to public library teen services.  Through their focus on teen services staff, the authors present a model of youth data literacy that is intended to prepare teens to thrive in a data-driven society.
Continue reading New Issue of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults: Vol. 10 N. 2

Libraries Welcome All Families: Community Partnerships to Fund Collection Development for English Learners in Urban Connecticut

One of the most difficult moments of the month was observing my English Learners come to check out books with their classes and not be able to find anything they could read at the high school level. It broke my heart to see dejection on their faces. It did not matter that I myself could not understand the words they were saying; I could just see it. Students perform better academically in literature courses when they see themselves in the materials and simply enjoy independent reading more. While I had some titles of interest for my Latinx students topically, all of them were in English. I set out to add books to my school library collection to assist my Spanish-speaking students. To purchase fiction in Spanish, I first posted a request on Donors Choose (www.donorschoose.org) for just ten novels. When the project was funded and the books arrived, I labeled each with a green S and shelved them above our fiction cases to aid new students trying to find them. After that success, I added another Donors Choose project to bring ten Spanish memoirs to West Haven High School, as all of our seniors must read a memoir.     

This project garnered the attention of the Greater Bridgeport Latino Network (GBLN), a local organization working to feature Latinx success stories, encourage political activism, and support community endeavors. GBLN showcased the story on their website, and it was subsequently picked up by a local newspaper, the New Haven Register. It was my desire to inform the audience it was not just me, my school, or my district needing these materials and support from the Latinx community:

“Literacy is necessary for being a productive member of society. Volunteering time such as reading at a toddler story hour, helping at a resume writing class, or speaking on a vocation or cause are all ways to support local libraries, especially those serving predominantly Latino communities. Woychowski welcomes the donation of new or gently used books to her own library, but she also encourages readers to donate both books and time to their own local school or public libraries.” (http://gbln.net/books-in-spanish-needed-for-high-school-library/)

Sharing this story via social media has been a blessing in terms of the varied audience reached. Links to the story appeared on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and were shared numerous times by personal friends and professional connections. Books began appearing on my home front porch and in my school mailbox from all corners of the community, from a prominent defense attorney to a small Catholic Church to a representative of the Hispanic Nurses Association of a large local hospital. Our community’s support of literacy is invaluable, and as school librarians, we must be willing to advocate for it on behalf of our students.

Jillian Woychowski is a School Library Media Specialist at West Haven High School and is a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation.

Teen Read Week: Community Involvement at Meadowcreek High School

IMG_9908_polarrThis year for Teen Read Week we celebrated and awarded students for “Reading Woke.”  The Read Woke Challenge is a incentive based reading program that rewards students for reading books that:

• Challenge a social norm

• Give voice to the voiceless

• Provide information about a group that has been disenfranchised

• Seek to challenge the status quo

• Have a protagonist from an underrepresented or oppressed group

I started the challenge last year but this year I was able to really expand the program thanks to the Teen Read Week grant sponsored by Dollar General and YALSA.  Last year, many students were not able to receive the prizes they earned but this year I made sure all students who completed the challenge received their prizes.  This year’s program was different because I had more community involvement.  In past years, I have worked alone and not really involved others.  When I opened the doors up to the community, it made my program even better.  I have established relationships and connections that have helped me to make a bigger impact.  Because of the Teen Read Grant, I reached out to the manager of Dollar General.  He was very supportive of the program and he was excited to be a part of our event.

Continue reading Teen Read Week: Community Involvement at Meadowcreek High School

Stories to Service at the Johnson City Public Library

The Johnson City Public Library (Johnson City, TN) began a new teen program called Stories to Service after receiving the YALSA Symposium Programming Challenge Award in 2018. Stories to Service is a teen volunteer program that combines literature with volunteerism through service projects and book clubs. The projects are both planned and implemented by teen volunteers between ages 12-18. Participants will gather to decide what service area they would like to focus on. Then the participants will read a book centered on their selected topic, discuss it together, and complete a project related to the book.

JCPL’s Teen Services Manager, Katelyn Wolfe, drew inspiration for this program from various discussions at the YALSA Symposium in November 2017, including presentations on teen volunteers and an author panel discussing Rudine Sims Bishop’s essay Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Glass Doors. Her goal was to create a program that accommodated the large number of teens who needed volunteer hours but also gave them an opportunity to connect with their community in new ways. Upon returning to the library, Katelyn brought the idea to the Teen Advisory Board members, who were immediately on board and began brain-storming possible ideas.
Continue reading Stories to Service at the Johnson City Public Library