De-biasing on University Campuses in the Age of Misinformation

Sebastian Krutkowski, Sarah Taylor-Harman, Kat Gupta

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In today’s polarised information environment, we must be careful not to conflate freedom of speech with freedom to spread demonstrable lies unchallenged, which is why we argue for a review of information literacy instruction to focus on social justice and help participants understand the implications of the views they may hold on vulnerable minority groups.
In this paper, we review and reflect upon the delivery of a staff development training on the facts and myths surrounding transgender issues. We also encourage other library and information professionals to expand their information literacy instruction into polarised issues that are marked by considerable amounts of misinformation.
Training participants reported that being more aware of transphobic media coverage will help them reduce bias and better support trans students and staff. It also enabled further opportunities for colleagues across teams and a variety of roles to incorporate the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion into their practice. The success of the sessions also contributed to wider institutional change.
Trans people are a vulnerable minority facing severe, persistent harassment and discrimination both in everyday life, and potentially in educational settings. Offering staff effective tools to educate themselves about media transphobia is a step towards creating an environment where trans students and staff can flourish. We explored how the media coverage of trans issues allows misinformation to stick and spread. Through applying the concepts of critical thinking and information literacy to trans issues, we explain how unconscious bias towards the trans community can be challenged.

© 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited. This is an author produced version of a paper published in REFERENCE SERVICES REVIEW uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReference Services Review
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2019

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