Entrance to the main branch of the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave.

Transgender employees at Evanston Public Library as well as those transitioning to that status will be protected under a new policy that was adopted by the Library’s Board of Trustees on Feb. 19.

At the regular Board meeting, trustees adopted transition procedures and a policy statement expressing support in the workplace for employees transitioning their and laying out guidelines for staff to promote inclusion.

Before the vote, Library Director Karen Danczak Lyons had urged adoption.

“The administrative team of the Evanston Public Library believes that human diversity leads to innovation,” Ms. Danczak Lyons said. “We value and support our employees’ lived experiences and respect their right to work openly and authentically as themselves.

“With this proposed policy, we are explicitly stating that our employees have the right to assert their gender identity, characteristics or expression without fear of consequences by the Evanston Public Library and that we will support our employees before, during and after their gender transition. It is our intention to extend these same courtesies to our patrons.”

Heather Norborg, Evanston Public Library’s Lifelong Learning and Literacy Manager, said that about a year ago, trainers from Lurie Children’s Hospital held a session called “Gender 101” for Library staff.

“After the training, based on conversations with and suggestions from staff, Renee Neumeier and I began to develop this policy,” she said. “We are committed to the library as a safe, welcoming and productive environment for all employees and potential employees, and we think it is important to specifically address issues facing LGBTQia+ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Asexual] staff,” Ms. Norborg said. “We hope that this policy signals to LGBTQia+ applicants that we are serious about protecting their rights and that Library leadership values and supports our employees’ lived

experiences and respect their right to work openly and authentically as

themselves. We believe that good policy can be the foundation upon which we

continue to strengthen our existing workplace culture of treating each other

with dignity and respect. “

 Some excerpts from the new policy:

“Transgender employees have the right to discuss their gender identity or expression openly, or to keep that information private. The transgender employee gets to decide when, with whom, and how much to share their private information.

An employee should be addressed by the name and pronoun that correspond to the employee’s gender identity, upon request; a court-ordered name or gender change is not required. The intentional or persistent refusal to respect an employee’s gender identity (for example, intentionally referring to the employee by a name or pronoun that does not correspond to the employee’s gender identity) can constitute harassment and is a violation of EPL’s policies.

At Evanston Public Library locations, transitioning employees have the right to use the restroom that corresponds to the employee’s gender identity or gender expression, regardless of the employee’s sex assigned at birth. The transitioning employee knows their gender better than the person objecting does.”

The statement also offered advice to individuals going through a transition, including a Creating a Plan (CAP) checklist, providing an overview of various steps that an individual might consider in the gender transition process. It also lists outside resources individuals might consider for support in their transition.

Bob Seidenberg

Bob Seidenberg is an award-winning reporter covering issues in Evanston for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.