AbstractThis research set out to investigate school libraries in Northern Ireland and the information needs of their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) students. Wanting to ensure that these students receive an equal service to their peers, the researcher’s aim was to consider how well school libraries addressed these needs.
To achieve this aim the research established the information needs of LGBT teenagers and how they fulfilled them. The importance of information to LGBT students and why it should be provided for them was then considered. Finally, the experiences of LGBT students and school librarians were examined in order to ascertain which barriers prevent the provision of this information in schools.
The literature review confirmed the researcher’s suspicion that parity did not exist in this provision despite a clear need for information in order to help fight homophobic abuse in schools.
Using mixed method, web-based questionnaires, the researcher gathered qualitative and quantitative data from two self-selecting populations: LGBT people aged between 16-25 and school librarians. This data was triangulated with information received from email questions to representatives of the School Library Service to provide an illustration of the situation in Northern Ireland’s schools.
This research found that whilst seeking ways of understanding their sexuality, LGBT students are being denied their rights to information through the absence of appropriate material on library shelves. They are often subjected to homophobic abuse, resulting in the degradation of their performance at school and of their mental health. The influence of religion also ensures that homosexuality is stigmatised in many schools.
School librarians are largely unaware of the presence of these students or of their information needs. They receive no directives or training and are unsure of their role in helping these students.
The research concludes with a number of simple recommendations which could improve the situation in individual libraries, until changes are made to recognise this issue at a governmental level
|Date of Award
|Gayner Eyre (Supervisor)