In response to recent legislation in North Carolina and in Mississippi limiting equal rights and protections for individuals who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and/or gender-nonconforming (LGBTQ), the MIT Libraries issued the following statement Wednesday:
Respect for diversity is a fundamental value of the MIT Libraries, and we are deeply committed to fostering a community where everyone feels valued and included. For that reason, we deplore state laws that restrict the rights and safety of LGBTQ people.
While the Libraries will not restrict MIT-funded travel to states that have adopted such laws, we will neither require nor encourage anyone to travel on MIT Libraries business or on MIT Libraries-funded professional development to any state with laws that restrict the rights and safety of our LGBTQ colleagues.
In addition, we would like to take this opportunity to reiterate MIT’s support for state laws that would fully protect transgender residents of Massachusetts from discrimination; and we call upon Governor Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts state legislature to ensure the wellbeing of LGBTQ people in our state by taking prompt action to pass SB 735/HB 1577 Nondiscrimination Protections for Transgender People in Public Spaces.
Libraries Director Chris Bourg endorsed the statement, drafted by members of the Libraries staff’s Committee for the Promotion of Diversity and Inclusion. The MIT Libraries’ statement comes just one day after the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in the US and Canada, released its own statement denouncing these and similar proposed laws that would limit civil rights. Bourg recently assumed the role of chair of ARL’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which co-sponsored the statement.
“The potential impact of these and similar proposed bills is a threat to our patrons, to our employees, and to the core mission of our profession as we endeavor to create safe spaces for open dialogue and opportunities for intellectual, artistic, scientific, historical, and philosophical advancement that will improve our society and world,” read the ARL statement.
“I applaud ARL’s statement in opposition to state laws limiting the civil rights and legal protections for LGBTQ individuals,” said Bourg. “We are proud to stand with our colleagues across the country in upholding social responsibility and equality, core values of librarianship.”