While we are seeing more LGBTQIA+ main characters in best-selling young adult books, young LGBTQIA+ people continue to struggle to find themselves accurately represented in fiction – and the focus still often remains on LGBT characters.
And yet reading is crucial to young people’s academic success: schools are rolling out ‘Reading For Pleasure’ initiatives in a bid to boost English results, and Allie boasts that xe can accurately gauge if a student is a keen reader from their own writing work.
Moreover, for many young people, reading is a great joy, often an escape from the tedium of daily life – one needs only look at the onslaught of film adaptations to understand the influence that YA fiction has – and young people deserve to see themselves widely, fairly and accurately represented.
The ‘We Need Diverse Books’ campaign highlights the need of diversity across the board: yet, “fewer than one in five secondary school teachers (17 per cent) say their school stocks library books and information about lesbian, gay and bisexual people.”
Where to find recommendations
Goodreads has a range of lists, including LGBTQIA+ YA fiction.
We Need Diverse Books is a campaign for greater representation of marginalised groups. They include LGBTQIA+ fiction, but we would strongly urge you to look at all aspects of diversity that they cover.
When you recommend books to students, we would strongly encourage you to make use of trigger warnings. A trigger warning is alerting readers to potentially distressing, harmful or upsetting material in the text. It also has the advantage of explicitly labelling certain behaviours, such as abuse, and flagging these to young readers to avoid normalising them through the narrative.
This enables readers to make their own choices, as well as allowing them to mentally prepare for the triggering material.
Where possible, do flag problematic aspects, where LGBTQIA+ representation may be poor, or give damaging suggestions to young people (for example: bisexual erasure, which is incredibly common in media; the common trope in YA fiction of trans men binding with bandages, which is a damaging practice).