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Nine years ago, I started writing a book. It was about a 16-year-old girl who was struggling to come out as a lesbian to her friends and family. I didn’t finish it, but the reason I started writing it is less valid today (thank goodness). I looked at book stores, libraries, and it was so difficult to find LGBTQ voices in young adult literature. When I look at my students, I want to know that there are people that represent them.
The statistics from the human rights campaign are sobering. LGTB youth are twice as likely to be physically assaulted. At the Trevor Project reports that LGTB youth are three times as likely to contemplate suicide. Forty percent of transgender adults report having made a suicide attempt in their lifetime.
It’s not just about acceptance; it’s about having a voice for these young people on our library, bookstore, and classroom shelves.
These young adult LGBTQ-friendly books are ones that I would recommend for all teens. Note: some have mature themes and adult language, so you want to consider the age group you teach. Definitely consider reading these books on your own as a representation of LGBT voices.
The Other Boy
by M.G. Hennessey
The protagonist, Shane, is a transgender young man who faces the intolerance of his father and the fear of sharing his story with his classmates, only a few that know his secret (that he was assigned female at birth). The author works with LGBT youth and takes great care in sharing Shane’s emotional journey and describing what it means to be kind in a world that doesn’t always seem to be.
What if It’s Us
by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Albertalli is the author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which was the inspiration for the popular movie, Love, Simon. This is another boy meets boy love story, but it is told in multiple perspectives. Arthur is a high school student in New York for the summer, and Ben is a New York native going through a breakup and finishing up summer school before college. Their chance meeting becomes a missed connection turned friendship and maybe more. There are some adult themes in the book, which is more appropriate for older high school students.
by David Levithan
A wakes up as someone else every day. This is not a metaphor, in fact, A is a different person each morning. One day, A may wake up as a high school jock then the next day, they might be a shy, brainy 16-year-old girl. This is the reality A has always known, until one day when they fall in love. Everyday is a book that looks beyond gender stereotypes and recognizes people for who they are inside.
I’ll Give You the Sun
by Jandy Nelson
Noah and Jude are fraternal twins and as close as twins can be until their world is shook by family tragedy. The story is told from the perspective of 13-year-old Noah and 16-old-year Jude, so the reader can experience two timeframes in the twins’ story. This is more than just a story of a gay young man and his twin sister. It’s a powerful story about family, friendships, relationships, art, and passion. Nelson writes with imagery that makes you picture each character which such clarity. You’ll find yourself wanting to know more and more of each individual’s story.
Check out these other LGBT-friendly young adult books by incredible authors!
Share these LGBT-friendly titles in your classroom, with your own children, or read for yourself. Celebrate pride month by providing a voice for all students in your classroom.