YA Literature has more LGBTQ+ characters than ever
PBS NewsHour asked the New York Public Library’s Caitlyn Colman-McGaw, manager of young adult programs, for recommendations of some of her favorite gay YA books. “This explicit representation on the page is relatively new — and we in the book world still have work to do to ensure all readers see themselves on the page.” In her own words, here are five of her favorites in LGBTQ+ young adult literature.
I Wish You All the Best features one of the first non-binary characters to grace the pages of YA, as a main character anyway. After coming out to their unsupportive parents, Ben struggles to manage their anxiety disorder in the chaotic environment that is senior year of high school.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe tells the story of Ari—a boy who is struggling with his own anger when Dante, a nerdy dude who is also weirdly confident, comes into his life. As their friendship turns romantic, the two boys learn about themselves in ways both touching and relatable.
EXTRA CREDIT: Meet Eli Erlick—the 19-year-old dynamo behind Trans Student Education Resources—knows firsthand the need for more trans-inclusive policies and awareness in schools. Erlick was awarded a Peace First fellowship to continue her nonprofit work that helps educate both schools and trans students on effective practices.
Advice for LGBTQ Youth
In this video from First Person, LGBTQ activists, playwrights, and producers give advice to young people on how to navigate coming out, advocate for themselves, find community, and love who they are.
For more resources like this, explore the rest of the Understanding LGBTQ+ Identity: A Toolkit for Educators collection from PBS Learning Media.
EXTRA CREDIT: Growing Up Trans is a FRONTLINE episode that takes an intimate look at the struggles and choices facing transgender kids and their families. This episode also features a local child.
The Right to Marry
For over twenty years, students at University Laboratory High School (Uni High) have worked with Illinois Public Media to produce audio documentaries covering a wide range of issues. Back in 2015, the students produced The Right to Marry with the goal of exploring the right to marry in contemporary American society. This included examining changes in laws, ideas, attitudes, and practices regarding interracial, intercultural, and same-sex marriage from the perspectives of individuals, couples, and families in east central Illinois from the 20th century to the present.