The LGBTQ Library
Books and Films for You and Your Classroom
This list of books and films—with options for students of all ages and reading levels—offers a good starting place for educators who need to diversify their curricula and classroom libraries. And, because adults need windows and mirrors too, the list includes professional development options that can broaden your understanding of LGBTQ history and lived experiences.
NOTE: This is intended as a resource, and all books were chosen for their reported value in providing diverse perspectives and representation of LGBTQ characters. But Learning for Justice has not read every book in this catalogue; educators should vet any chosen books carefully before using them in the classroom.
by Marcus Ewert
“Every night, Bailey dreams about magical dresses: dresses made of crystals and rainbows, dresses made of flowers, dresses made of windows … Unfortunately, when Bailey’s awake, no one wants to hear about these beautiful dreams. Quite the contrary. “You’re a BOY!’ Mother and Father tell Bailey. ’You shouldn’t be thinking about dresses at all.’ Then Bailey meets Laurel, an older girl who is touched and inspired by Bailey’s imagination and courage. In friendship, the two of them begin making dresses together.” (Synopsis from Seven Stories Press.)
You can access this book’s text—along with a read-aloud option and text-dependent questions to share with students—in our free Student Text Library.
And Tango Makes Three
by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
This true story about two penguins, Roy and Silo, at the Central Park Zoo who created a nontraditional family offers a heartwarming look at the boundless definitions of family and love.
Antonio’s Card/La Tarjeta de Antonio
by Rigoberto González
This bilingual book written in English and Spanish follows Antonio, who wants his mother and her partner Leslie (who his classmates make fun of) to know how much he loves and appreciates them both on Mother’s Day.
Annie’s Plaid Shirt
by Stacy B. Davids
Annie’s mom demands her daughter wear a dress to her uncle’s wedding. But Annie is miserable and feels weird wearing dresses. So she has a better idea. This book will encourage students to consider gender norms and possibly rethink the boundaries of personal expression.
Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGBT Rights
by Jerome Pohlen
This interactive book—complete with 21 activities for kids—highlights LGBTQ individuals who shaped world history.
Heather Has Two Mommies
by Lesléa Newman
This updated version of the 1989 book of the same name simply and beautifully illustrates the diverse range of families young readers can have and appreciate.
I Am Jazz
by Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthel
This book—based on Jazz’s real-life experience—offers a simple, clear window into the life of a transgender girl who knew her true self from a young age.
In Our Mothers’ House
by Patricia Polacco
Marmee, Meema and the kids endure a lack of acceptance by some who feel their "untraditional family" is too different. These two moms teach their children the true meaning of family.
Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story about Gender and Friendship
by Jessica Walton
After a few days of feeling down, Teddy reveals to Errol that she feels more like a girl than a boy. Her fear of speaking up is quickly turned into self-confidence as Errol and his friend embrace the newly named Tilly just the way she is.
It Feels Good to Be Yourself
by Theresa Thorn
“This sweet, straightforward exploration of gender identity will give children a fuller understanding of themselves and others. With child-friendly language and vibrant art, It Feels Good to Be Yourself provides young readers and parents alike with the vocabulary to discuss this important topic with sensitivity.” (Synopsis from Henry Holt and Co. of Macmillan Publishers.)
Jacob’s New Dress
by Sarah and Ian Hoffman
"Jacob loves playing dress-up, when he can be anything he wants to be. This heartwarming story speaks to the unique challenge faced by boys who don’t identify with traditional gender roles." (Synopsis from Albert Whitman & Company.)
Mommy, Mama, and Me and Daddy, Papa, and Me
by Lesléa Newman
These books follow toddlers who spend the day with their two moms and two dads, respectively.
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress
by Christine Baldacchino
The imaginative Morris finds a tangerine dress amidst all the items in his classroom's dress-up center. And he loves it. This book can help early readers understand and value peers whose gender expression may differ from cultural norms.
by Bao Phi
“Every child feels different in some way, but Thuy feels ‘double different.’ She is Vietnamese American and she has two moms. Thuy walks home one winter afternoon, angry and lonely after a bully’s taunts. Then a bird catches her attention and sets Thuy on an imaginary exploration. … She makes her way home to the arms of her moms. Together, the three of them imagine beautiful and powerful creatures who always have courage—just like Thuy.” (Synopsis from Capstone publishers.)
by DeShanna Neal, Trinity Neal
“A dedicated mom puts love into action as she creates the perfect rainbow-colored wig for her transgender daughter, based on the real-life experience of mother-daughter advocate duo Trinity and DeShanna Neal.” (Synopsis from Kokila of Penguin Random House publishing.)
One of a Kind, Like Me/Único Como Yo
by Laurin Mayeno
"Tomorrow is the school parade, and Danny knows exactly what he will be: a princess." (Blood Orange Press.) And his family is going to help him do it. Written in English and Spanish.
Our Daughter is Getting Married
by Gail Heath
From Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board Member Gail Heath, this rhyming picture book offers the perspective of supportive parents seeing their daughter marry the woman she loves.
Our Family: A Film About Family Diversity
from Not In Our Town and Our Family Coalition
This documentary features elementary students’ insights about what makes a family, featuring a diverse range of answers and identities. An extensive K–5 instructional guide accompanies the film, providing ready-to-use materials such as discussion outlines and lesson plans.
Prince and Knight
by Daniel Haack
"In this modern fairy tale, a noble prince and a brave knight come together to defeat a terrible monster and in the process find true love." (Synopsis from Little Bee Books.)
Red: A Crayon’s Story
by Michael Hall
A blue crayon is given the wrong label. No matter how hard he and everyone around him tries to make him red, he can’t do it. This book chronicles what it takes for him to embrace his inner self.
by Dani Gabriel
This book tells the story of a 9-year-old trans boy and his journey coming out to his family and finding love, support and comfort. Penny Candy Books describes it as being “in the vein of I Am Jazz … based on the true story of the author’s family.”
Sex Is a Funny Word
by Cory Silverberg
Less controversial than its title suggests, this comic book for kids includes children and families of all makeups, orientations and gender identities, providing an essential resource about bodies, gender and sexuality for young children that will help caregivers guide difficult conversations. (Adapted from synopsis by Triangle Square of Seven Stories Press.)
Stella Brings the Family
by Miriam B. Schiffer
Stella has two daddies and her class is preparing to celebrate Mother's Day. In this story that helps redefine the "traditional" family, Stella finds a unique solution.
The Best Man
by Richard Peck
This story about, as Dial Books puts it, "small-town life, gay marriage and everyday heroes" follows Archer, a boy nearing adolescence and trying to understand his male role models and adults in general. This book features a gay teacher who outs himself to combat anti-gay bullying in the school.
The Family Book
by Todd Parr
This book introduces readers to a diverse range of families, encouraging them to empathize with peers who may have single parents, same-sex parents, other relatives raising them or any number of supposedly “nontraditional” homes.
This Day in June
by Gayle E. Pitman
This book offers young readers a celebratory look at the LGBTQ community, inviting them to experience a Pride celebration. This book includes LGBTQ history and notable facts, as well as discussion guides for parents, caregivers or educators.
When Aidan Became a Brother
by Kyle Lukoff
“After he realized he was a trans boy, Aidan and his parents fixed the parts of life that didn’t fit anymore, and he settled happily into his new life. Then Mom and Dad announce that they’re going to have another baby, and Aidan wants to do everything he can to make things right for his new sibling from the beginning. ... With a little help, Aidan comes to understand that mistakes can be fixed with honesty and communication, and that he already knows the most important thing about being a big brother: how to love with his whole self.” (Synopsis from Lee & Low Books.)
When We Love Someone We Sing to Them
by Ernesto Javier Martínez
“A reclamation of the Mexican serenata tradition, follow the story of a young boy who asks his father if there is a song for a boy who loves a boy. ... When We Love Someone We Sing to Them reframes a treasured cultural tradition to include LGBTQ experience. In this book, we learn about the Mexican tradition of singing to family and loved ones through one boy who naturally assumes the tradition includes him and his experience.” (Synopsis from Reflection Press.)
Who Are You?: The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity
by Brook Pessin-Whedbee
A straightforward introduction to gender identity for early readers which includes a guide for adults to help them field questions and facilitate conversation.
Worm Loves Worm
by J.J. Austrian
"When a worm meets a special worm and they fall in love, they decide to get married. But their friends want to know: Who will wear the dress? And who will wear the tux? The answer is: It doesn’t matter. Because worm loves worm." (Synopsis from Balzer and Bray of HarperCollins Publishers.)
A Place in the Middle: The True Meaning of Aloha
This documentary short by Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson tells the story of a school in Honolulu, Hawaii, that is demonstrating respect for and inclusion of gender-fluid students. Also suitable for high school.
Alan Cole Is Not a Coward
by Eric Bell
“Alan Cole can’t stand up to his cruel brother, Nathan. He can’t escape the wrath of his demanding father, who thinks he’s about as exceptional as a goldfish. And—scariest of all—he can’t let the cute boy across the cafeteria know he has a crush on him.” (Synopsis from HarperCollins.)
Ana on the Edge
by A.J. Saas
This book features a nonbinary protagonist and her friend Hayden, a transgender boy. As Ana navigates what it means to perform gender as a figure skating champion, their friendship with Hayden develops.
Better Nate Than Ever
by Tim Federle
This novel follows Nate Foster, who has always dreamed of starring in a Broadway show. But he lives in Jankburg. So when he sees an open casting call, he plots a way to get to New York. This book contains a subplot about a teenager who is questioning his sexual orientation.
Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History
This Learning for Justice documentary chronicles one student’s ordeal at the hands of anti-gay bullies and offers an inspiring message of hope to those fighting harassment today. Our film kit includes a viewer’s guide with standards-aligned lesson plans and activities.
Darius the Great Is Not Okay and Darius the Great Deserves Better
by Adib Khorram
Khorram’s coming-of-age novels follow Darius Kellner, a second generation American and multiracial Persian boy whose life changes when he visits Iran for the first time. Along with excellent explorations of culture, religion and mental health, these books chronicle Darius’ acceptance of his queer identity.
by Bridget Birdsall
This novel follows 15-year-old Alyx, who was born intersex and, at first, raised as a boy and bullied. When she gets to start her life over in Milwaukee, she finds her place on the girls’ varsity basketball team, only to then face a rival who tries to subvert Alyx’s happiness, and her identity.
by Raina Telgemeier
This graphic novel focuses on Callie and the dramatic (in more ways than one) production of a middle school play. The book also happens to feature openly gay characters, worked seamlessly into the plot without their identity being a crisis point.
From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun
by Jacqueline Woodson
Melanin Sun is close to his mom. But when she tells him she’s gay—and that her girlfriend is white—he experiences a lot of difficult feelings. This novel explores the intersections of family, race and sexuality through a compelling young man’s voice.
by Ami Polonsky
This book offers the perspective of Grayson, a transgender girl who feels she must keep her identity a secret. An unexpected friendship and a caring teacher’s wisdom help her find courage.
Growing Up Trans
This PBS Frontline documentary offers a look at the choices families must make when the biological sex and gender identity of their child do not match. The film’s website features short, topical articles that accompany the film—perfect for classroom use. Also suitable for high school.
Hazel’s Theory of Evolution
by Lisa Jenn Bigelow
Featuring a questioning asexual protagonist in a family with two moms, this novel follows Hazel as she navigates the eighth grade and the feelings that come with her mother being pregnant after multiple miscarriages. Hazel’s preciousness and relatable struggles with friendship make this a great middle grade option.
by Kacen Callender
“Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and twelve-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. She’s hated and bullied by everyone in her small school on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, a spirit only she can see won’t stop following her, and—worst of all—Caroline’s mother left home one day and never came back. But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline’s luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline’s first and only friend, and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush. ... Together, Caroline and Kalinda must set out in a hurricane to find Caroline’s missing mother, before Caroline loses her forever.” (Synopsis from Scholastic.)
by Nicole Melleby
This book follows Fig, a sixth grade girl who learns she isn’t alone in helping her father cope with mental illness and expands the notion of who counts as family. The story features Fig developing her first crush on a girl.
King and the Dragonflies
by Kacen Callender
Winner of the 2020 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. “Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live down by the bayou in their small Louisiana town. Khalid still visits in dreams, and King must keep these secrets to himself as he watches grief transform his family. It would be easier if King could talk with his best friend, Sandy Sanders. But just days before he died, Khalid told King to end their friendship, after overhearing a secret about Sandy—that he thinks he might be gay. But when Sandy goes missing, sparking a town-wide search, and King finds his former best friend hiding in a tent in his backyard, he agrees to help Sandy escape from his abusive father, and the two begin an adventure as they build their own private paradise down by the bayou and among the dragonflies. As King’s friendship with Sandy is reignited, he’s forced to confront questions about himself and the reality of his brother’s death.” (Synopsis from Scholastic.)
LGBTQ+ Athletes Claim the Field: Striving for Equality
by Kirstin Cronn-Mills and Alex Jackson Nelson
This nonfiction book chronicles the struggles and triumphs of athletes across the LGBTQ spectrum, offering inspiration to queer student-athletes who may feel they don’t fit the mold.
Lily and Dunkin
by Donna Gephart
This book chronicles the transformative friendship between Lily Jo McGrother and Dunkin Dorfman, a transgender girl and a boy who has bipolar disorder.
None of the Above
by I. W. Gregorio
This book gives voice to an identity group not often heard in young adult literature: intersex teens. Readers explore the complexities of gender identity and growing up through Krissy, who is dealing with her androgen insensitivity syndrome diagnosis. Also suitable for high school.
Not Your Sidekick
by C.B. Lee
Perfect for students looking for a fun, extracurricular read, this book tells the story of Jessica Tran—a queer, Asian American protagonist. Jessica was born to superhero parents, but has no powers herself. When she spites her parents by taking an internship, she finds herself in danger.
Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community
by Robin Stevenson
This youth-friendly book celebrates the diverse and vibrant LGBTQ community, while explaining what Pride is, who celebrates it and its origins.
Real Talk for Teens: Jump-Start Guide to Gender Transitioning and Beyond
by Seth Jamison Rainess
This book offers transgender teens and their families, teachers and friends suggestions for navigating transitions in a safe, healthy and inclusive way.
by Alex Gino
“Rick’s never questioned much. He’s gone along with his best friend Jeff even when Jeff’s acted like a bully and a jerk. He’s let his father joke with him about which hot girls he might want to date even though that kind of talk always makes him uncomfortable. And he hasn’t given his own identity much thought, because everyone else around him seemed to have figured it out. But now Rick’s gotten to middle school, and new doors are opening.” (Synopsis from Scholastic.)
So Hard to Say
by Alex Sanchez
This novel follows Frederick, a questioning youth dealing with the attention of an interested girl while he can’t stop thinking about his soccer teammate. A relatable story for adolescents trying to figure out their feelings, and a window into that process for straight students who may not understand.
The House of Hades
by Rick Riordan
This fourth book in the famous Percy Jackson series (Heroes of Olympus) features Nico, who comes out as gay. This represents a rare example of a widely read, popular series including an out queer character.
The House You Pass on the Way
by Jacqueline Woodson
This novel tells the story of 14-year-old Staggerlee—the child of a Black father and white mother living in the rural South. Through her connection to her aunt, Trout, Staggerlee explores the intersections of family, race, sexuality and loneliness in a nuanced way.
The Lotterys Plus One
by Emma Donoghue
“Once upon a time, a man from Delhi and a man from Yukon fell in love, and so did a woman from Jamaica and a Mohawk woman.” These couples co-parent seven children in a fun-filled story featuring a perfectly imperfect modern family. Also suitable for upper-elementary students.
The Misfits series
by James Howe
These books that inspired No Name-Calling Week follow Bobby, Joe, Addie and Skeezie, best friends experiencing middle school and bullying. These books tackle growing up gay, interracial relationships, queer identity and more.
The Moon Within
by Aida Salazar
“Celi Rivera’s life swirls with questions. About her changing body. Her first attraction to a boy. And her best friend’s exploration of what it means to be genderfluid. But most of all, her mother’s insistence she have a moon ceremony when her first period arrives. It’s an ancestral Mexica ritual that Mima and her community have reclaimed, but Celi promises she will NOT be participating. Can she find the power within herself to take a stand for who she wants to be?” (Synopsis from Scholastic.)
The Other Boy
by M. G. Hennessey
This novel follows Shane Woods, a 12-year-old boy whose life revolves around baseball, his best friend Josh, his in-the-works graphic novel and school. When his secret—that he was assigned female at birth—comes out, he finds acceptance from people he feared wouldn’t understand.
The Ship We Built
by Lexie Bean
“Rowan has too many secrets to write down in the pages of a diary. And if he did, he wouldn’t want anyone he knows to read them. He understands who he is and what he likes, but it’s not safe for others to find out. Now the kids at school say Rowan’s too different to spend time with. He’s not the ‘right kind’ of girl, and he’s not the ‘right kind’ of boy. … But Rowan discovers another way to share his secrets: letters. Letters he attaches to balloons and releases into the universe, hoping someone new will read them and understand. But when he befriends a classmate who knows what it’s like to be lonely and scared, even at home, Rowan realizes that there might already be a person he can trust right by his side.” (Synopsis from Penguin Randomhouse.)
The Strangeworld’s Travel Agency
by L.D. Lapinski
This own-voices book (the first in a series) features nonbinary and trans characters in a plot that leads young characters and readers through a magical and multiversal travel agency.
A Queer History of the United States for Young People
by Michael Bronski and adapted by Richie Chevat
“It is crucial for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth to know their history. But this history is not easy to find since it’s rarely taught in schools or commemorated in other ways. A Queer History of the United States for Young People corrects this and demonstrates that LGBTQ people have long been vital to shaping our understanding of what America is today. Through engrossing narratives, letters, drawings, poems, and more, the book encourages young readers, of all identities, to feel pride at the accomplishments of the LGBTQ people who came before them and to use history as a guide to the future.” (Synopsis from Beacon Press.)
All Boys Aren’t Blue
by George M. Johnson
“In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. ...This young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys. ... Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color.” (Synopsis from Macmillan Publishers.)
All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages and Out Now: Queer We Go Again
Edited by Saundra Mitchell
These anthologies feature historical fiction stories written by LGBTQ authors and featuring LGBTQ characters throughout various periods.
by Brian Katcher
When Logan discovers that his love interest, Sage, is a transgender girl, he lashes out. His regret of this act—and Sage’s journey—informs a sensitive, accessible look at what it means to be a transgender teen.
Anger Is a Gift
by Mark Oshiro
Featuring an incredibly diverse cast of young characters, this novel follows Moss Jeffries, a gay Black boy reeling from the police killing his father in Oakland. This book very directly confronts police violence, mental health, racism, systemic discrimination faced by students of multiple identities and more. Any reading or conversation should be carefully planned.
As I Descended
by Robin Talley
A lesson on Shakespeare’s Macbeth can be made more accessible with a cross-comparison to this modern retelling, featuring teen couple Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Two Mexican-American teens—Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana—are trying to grow up in El Paso, Texas, and figure out the world beyond it. For “Ari,” this includes grappling with approaching manhood, his culture and his increasing awareness of his sexuality.
by Christina Lauren
A novel “about two boys who fall in love in a writing class—one from a progressive family and the other from a conservative religious community.” (Synopsis from Simon and Schuster.)
by Alex Sanchez
When he punches a guy for looking at him funny, Diego lands in juvenile court. Only when Diego starts to open up to Mr. Vidas does he discover that the source of his anger is buried in his past.
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children
by Kirstin Cronn-Mills
Gabe hosts a show on 90.3 KZUK—one of the rare spaces he can be himself. In waking life, he’s forced to go by Elizabeth, faces bullying and his family will not acknowledge his identity. As he says: “Elizabeth is my A side, the song everybody knows, and Gabe is my B side, not heard as often, but just as good.”
Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen
by Jazz Jennings
In this memoir, Jazz Jennings reflects on what it’s like to be a public face for transgender youth.
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
by Susan Kuklin
This book contains six intimate interviews with transgender or gender nonconforming youth, offering unique insight into their perspectives of gender, family, transitioning and more.
by Simon Curtis
Seventeen-year-old Isaak discovers he’s a government-made robot and marked for termination. In a quest to fight against a secret government organization, he finds a male love interest along the way.
by Aiden Thomas
“When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual [to summon a ghost] himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.” (Synopsis from Macmillan Publishers.)
Chulito: A Novel
by Charles Rice-González
"Set against a vibrant South Bronx neighborhood and the queer youth culture of Manhattan’s piers, Chulito is a coming-of-age, coming out love story of a tough, hip-hop-loving, young Latino man and the colorful characters who populate his block." (Synopsis by Querelle Press.)
Frameline’s Youth in Motion collection features many films from a diverse range of LGBTQ lived experiences. One such film is Deep Run, an intimate documentary featuring Cole Ray Davis’s life in rural North Carolina, where his identities as a trans man and undocumented immigrant cause tension in his quest for faith, work, acceptance and love.
by Darcie Little Badger
This work of speculative fiction by Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas member Darcie Little Badger features asexual protagonist Elatsoe, who can raise the ghosts of dead animals and uses her skills to uncover what happened to her cousin, the victim of a recent murder.
Every Body Looking
by Candice Iloh
“When Ada leaves home for her freshman year at a Historically Black College, it’s the first time she’s ever been so far from her family—and the first time that she’s been able to make her own choices and to seek her place in this new world. As she stumbles deeper into the world of dance and explores her sexuality, she also begins to wrestle with her past—her mother’s struggle with addiction, her Nigerian father’s attempts to make a home for her.” (Synopsis from Penguin Random House.)
Everything Is Beautiful and I’m Not Afraid: A Baopu Collection
by Yao Xiao
“This one-of-a-kind graphic novel explores the poetics of searching for connection, belonging, and identity through the fictional life of a young, queer immigrant. Inspired by the creator’s own experiences as a queer, China-born illustrator living in the United States.” Educators can select excerpts appropriate for high school students. (Synopsis from Andrews McMeel Publishing.)
Fade to Black
by Alex Flinn
Latino and HIV-positive, Alex Crusan faces a lot of isolation and cruelty at school. But when someone shatters his windshield with a baseball bat and injures him, the school blames Alex’s bully, who is given a glimpse at the pain of isolation and assumptions.
by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo
This novel is a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl who’s bullied for keeping to herself, being quiet and being fat. With the help of a girl named KC Romance, she begins to see value in herself.
Felix Ever After
by Kacen Callender
“When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle.... But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.” (Synopsis from HarperCollins Publishers.)
Fifteen Hundred Miles From the Sun
by Jonny Garza Villa
“Julián Luna has a plan for his life: Graduate. Get into UCLA. And have the chance to move away from Corpus Christi, Texas, and the suffocating expectations of others that have forced Jules into an inauthentic life. Then in one reckless moment, with one impulsive tweet, his plans for a low-key nine months are thrown―literally―out the closet. The downside: the whole world knows, and Jules has to prepare for rejection. The upside: Jules now has the opportunity to be his real self.” (Synopsis from Skyscape Books.)
by Sarah Waters
Set in Victorian Era Britain, this thriller follows the story of Sue Trinder, an orphan who becomes a petty thief. Her complicated relationship with Maud—a wealthy woman who falls for Sue—leads to a climactic double-crossing and a stint in the asylum.
by Mike Curato
“It’s the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is away at camp. Everyone’s going through changes—but for Aiden, the stakes feel higher. As he navigates friendships, deals with bullies, and spends time with Elias (a boy he can’t stop thinking about), he finds himself on a path of self-discovery and acceptance.” (Synopsis from Macmillan Publishers.)
Gender Queer: A Memoir
by Maia Kobabe
“Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.” Recommended for grades 11 and 12. (Synopsis from Oni Press.)
Girl Made of Stars
by Ashley Herring Blake
Content warning: sexual assault. “Mara and Owen are as close as twins can get, so when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can her brother really be guilty of such a violent act? Torn between her family and her sense of right and wrong, Mara feels lost, and it doesn’t help that things are strained with her ex-girlfriend, Charlie. As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie come together in the aftermath of this terrible crime, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits into her future.” (Synopsis from HMH Books.)
How Many Letters Are In Goodbye
by Yvonne Cassidy
At different points in her childhood, Rhea lost her arm and her mother. Experiencing homelessness in New York City, she writes letters to her late mother, exploring her fears, her secrets, and her confusion and pain around accepting her sexuality.
I Am J
by Cris Beam
This novel follows J, a transgender boy of Jewish and Puerto Rican descent. After he is deserted by his best friend, J decides he is done hiding his true identity from his family and friends.
I Am Not Your Negro
This documentary by Raoul Peck brings the final writings of James Baldwin—a prolific and openly gay writer—to life for today’s audiences.
I’ll Be the One
by Lyla Lee
“Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.” This book features a bisexual protagonist and multiple queer characters. (Synopsis from HarperCollins Publishers.)
I’ll Give You the Sun
by Jandy Nelson
Two twins—Noah and Jude—serve as the narrators for this book about two siblings who grow apart when puberty hits. Later, when tragedy strikes, they find themselves competing for the same boys, the same art schools and forgiveness.
If I Was Your Girl
by Meredith Russo
In this novel, Amanda Hardy enters a new school, gladly leaving behind the name of Andrew and her former learning environment. But when she falls for Grant, she finds herself wanting to share her truth with him—and finds herself fearing the repercussions.
If You Could Be Mine
by Sara Farizan
Seventeen-year-old Sahar is in love with Nasrin. But in Iran, their relationship would be a crime. This novel explores the intersections of cultural expectations, sexuality and gender expression as Sahar considers undergoing sex reassignment to preserve the relationship.
Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story
by Sonia Patel
In this Hawaii-based story, trans boy Jay Mehta is Indian, born of wealth and privilege. Rasa Santos is of mixed ethnicity, and her mother is frequently absent. Neither have known love or family—until they meet each other. (Synopsis adapted from Cinco Puntos Press.)
Juliet Takes a Breath
by Gabby Rivera
From GLSEN Youth Programs Manager Gabby Rivera comes a story about Juliet, who is still trying to figure out the intersections of her identity as a Puerto Rican lesbian from the Bronx. During a summer spent in Portland, Oregon, she discovers other writers of color, love, family, friends and self-esteem.
This documentary follows seven characters from the Ballroom scene in New York City. These young LGBTQ youth-of-color speak about their art, homelessness, illness and prejudice at a moment when Black Lives Matter and transgender rights are in the headlines. For classroom purposes, it may be best to select clips of interviews rather than screen in full.
by Zoraida Córdova
"At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power [as a bruja]. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air." (Sourcebooks Fire.) The quest to get them back follows Alex, a bisexual protagonist, in a story steeped with Latinx-American culture and magic.
Like a Love Story
by Abdi Nazemian
This novel, set in New York City in 1989, follows three characters: Reza, an Iranian boy who has not yet come out as gay; Judy, a fashion designer whose beloved gay uncle has AIDS; and Art, the only out gay kid at their school. The story is interwoven into narratives surrounding the AIDS epidemic and what it means to be yourself against that backdrop.
by Rebecca Podos
“In Savannah Espinoza’s small New Mexico hometown, kids either flee after graduation or they’re trapped there forever. Vanni never planned to get stuck—but that was before her father was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, leaving her and her mother to care for him. Now she doesn’t have much of a plan at all: living at home, working as a performing mermaid at a second-rate water park, distracting herself with one boy after another. That changes the day she meets Leigh. ... She is unlike anyone Vanni has met, and a friend when Vanni desperately needs one. Soon enough, Leigh is much more than a friend.” (Synopsis from HarperCollins Publishers.)
Little & Lion
by Brandy Colbert
“When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she’s isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (as well as her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support. But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with.” (Synopsis from Little, Brown and Company.)
by Julie Anne Peters
“Like the moon from whom Liam has chosen his female name, his true self, Luna, only reveals herself at night. In the secrecy of his basement bedroom Liam transforms [herself] into the beautiful girl [she] longs to be, with help from [her] sister’s clothes and makeup. Now, everything is about to change: Luna is preparing to emerge from her cocoon. But are Liam’s family and friends ready to welcome Luna into their lives?” (Synopsis from Little, Brown and Company.)
This documentary celebrates and chronicles the work of Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, an activist and veteran of the Stonewall riots in New York City. This includes her fight to speak up for trans people—especially trans women of color—who faced unfair treatment in prison. Due to subject matter and strong imagery, choosing classroom-friendly clips is recommended.
Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine
This is a documentary about Matthew Shepard, the gay young man who was tortured and murdered in one of the most notorious hate crimes in recent U.S. history. Directed by one of his close friends, the film revisits the case and its impact.
by E. M. Forster
Published posthumously, Forster’s novel follows Maurice from school to adulthood in early 20th century Britain. The book serves as an indictment of the legal and social codes at the time, as Maurice struggles to reconcile his feelings with his fear of being gay in a country that deems his love illegal.
by Jeffrey Eugenides
Calliope Stephanides’ transition from Callie to Cal begins with the realization that he is intersex—one of the many surprises he uncovers about his family history that spans from Mount Olympus to Detroit. Winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize.
by Paul Yee
This novel follows a young immigrant in Canada who is struggling to navigate his intersecting identities of being Chinese, gay and an immigrant.
More Happy Than Not
by Adam Silvera
Struggling to cope with his father’s suicide, 16-year-old Aaron Soto finds happiness and safety when he’s around Thomas, who’s new to the Bronx. But facing backlash—internal and external—Aaron considers a memory-altering procedure to forget his feelings. (Synopsis adapted from Soho Teen press.)
Not Otherwise Specified
by Hannah Moskowitz
As a black, bisexual young woman recovering from an eating disorder, Etta navigates issues of biphobia, race, mental health and bullying as she looks to live beyond labels that don’t fit.
October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard
by Lesléa Newman
Matthew Shepard was killed in 1998, becoming a martyr and face of anti-bullying and gay rights. This collection of 68 poems chronicles his final moments and pays tribute to him.
One in Every Crowd
by Ivan Coyote
“Comprised of new stories and others culled from previous collections, One in Every Crowd is for anyone who has ever felt different or alone in their struggle to be true to themselves.” (Synopsis from Arsenal Pulp Press.)
Pedro and Me
by Judd Winick
“Pedro Zamora changed lives. When the HIV-positive AIDS educator appeared on MTV’s The Real World: San Francisco, he taught millions of viewers about being gay and living with AIDS. Pedro’s roommate on the show was Judd Winick, who created Pedro and Me to honor Pedro Zamora, his friend and teacher and an unforgettable human being.” (Synopsis from Macmillan Publishers.)
by Akwaeke Emezi
“There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told.” This book centers a Black trans protagonist. (Synopsis from Penguin Random House.)
Queens of Geek
by Jen Wilde
"Three friends, two love stories, one convention: This fun love letter to geek culture is all about fandom, friendship and finding the courage to be yourself." (Synopsis from Swoon Reads.)
Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World
by Sarah Prager
In 23 quick, accessible chapters, Prager fills some of the gaps in world history textbooks that too often leave out LGBTQ people.
Thirteen-year-old Zoey is a transgender teen from a working-class Latino family. This documentary tells the story of her fight—alongside the ACLU—to self-identify at school and have a learning environment free of the bullying she had faced from both students and school officials.
by Rosa Guy
“Ruby Cathy feels left without friends, without comfort and without love. Then she meets Daphne Duprey, who is ‘cool, calm, cultured, sophisticated and refined’—everything that Ruby is not. Together, Ruby and Daphne build a relationship that gives each young woman a new understanding of strength, friendship and love.” (Synopsis from Just Us Books.)
by Alex Cooper and Joanna Brooks
“When I was fifteen, I told my Mormon parents I was gay, and that’s when my nightmare began.” This nonfiction, first-person narrative tells the story of Alex Cooper, a former captive of a conversion therapy camp in Utah.
by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
This graphic novel covers a range of critical teenage issues in its telling of Kimberly “Skim” Keiko Cameron’s story. With her school in mourning after a recent suicide—and her mind grappling with a crush on her female teacher—Skim navigates her intersectional identity, cliques and first love.
Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights
by Ann Bausum
This nonfiction book provides a teen friendly history of the Stonewall Riots and the national LGBTQ rights movement that followed.
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
by Becky Albertalli
"Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight." (Synopsis from Balzer & Bray.) This book inspired the major motion picture Love, Simon.
by Audre Lorde
A quintessential collection of speeches and essays on race, sexuality, gender and society, featuring the words of a woman at the forefront of contemporary feminism and understanding intersectionality. This collection features appropriate excerpts for high school students.
Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen
by Arin Andrews
In this memoir, Arin Andrews details the journey that led him to make the life-transforming decision to undergo gender reassignment as a high school junior. He speaks to the challenges he faced, the humiliation and anger he felt after getting kicked out of private school, and transitioning. (Synopsis adapted from Simon and Schuster.)
Symptoms of Being Human
by Jeff Garvin
"On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s really like to be a gender-fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school, the blog goes viral ... and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure." (Synopsis from Balzer & Bray.)
Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
by Sara Farizan
"As an Iranian-American, she’s different enough; if word got out that Leila liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when beautiful new girl Saskia shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would." (Synopsis from Algonquin Young Readers.) This book gives students a nuanced look at issues of family, religion, sexual orientation and cultural expectations.
The 57 Bus
by Dashka Slater
“If it weren’t for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. … Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment.” This book features a genderqueer and “gray-cupiosexual” protagonist in Sasha, as well as other queer characters. (Synopsis from Macmillan Publishers.)
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
by Gertrude Stein
Posing under her lover’s voice, Stein’s book chronicles the couple’s star-studded life in Paris, featuring artistic luminaries such as Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and Henri Matisse.
by James Tynion IV
“When Jory transfers to an all-boys private high school, he’s taken in by the only ones who don’t treat him like a new kid, the lowly stage crew known as the Backstagers. Not only does he gain great, lifetime friends, Jory is also introduced to an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain.” (Synopsis from Simon and Schuster.)
The Color Purple
by Alice Walker
This classic Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning book tells the story of two sisters—one a missionary in Africa and the other a child wife living in the South—who find ways to stay connected. The story features intimate portraits of a lesbian relationship and fluid sexual identities.
The Dangerous Art of Blending In
by Angelo Surmelis
“Seventeen-year-old Evan Panos doesn’t know where he fits in. His strict immigrant Greek mother refuses to see him as anything but a disappointment. His quiet, workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend, Henry, has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer. Tired, isolated, scared—Evan finds that his only escape is to draw in an abandoned monastery that feels as lonely as he is. … And it’s Henry who makes him believe that he deserves more than his mother’s harsh words and terrifying abuse.” (Synopsis from HarperCollins Publishers.)
The Gender Quest Workbook: A Guide for Teens and Young Adults Exploring Gender Identity
by Rylan Jay Testa, Deborah Coolhart and Jayme Peta
This book incorporates skills, exercises and activities from evidence-based therapies to help young people address the broad range of struggles they may encounter related to gender identity, as well as explore the concepts of gender, gender identity and gender expression. (Synopsis adapted from Instant Help publishing.)
The God Box
by Alex Sanchez
"Paul, a religious teen living in a small conservative town ... meets Manuel—a young man who says he’s both Christian and gay, two things that Paul didn’t think could coexist in one person." (Simon & Schuster.) This novel offers a compassionate look at the intersections of faith and sexuality.
The Grief Keeper
by Alexandra Villasante
“[Marisol] never pictured fleeing her home in El Salvador under threat of death and stealing across the US border as ‘an illegal,’ but after her brother is murdered and her younger sister, Gabi’s, life is also placed in equal jeopardy, she has no choice, especially because she knows everything is her fault. If she had never fallen for the charms of a beautiful girl named Liliana, Pablo might still be alive, her mother wouldn’t be in hiding and she and Gabi wouldn’t have been caught crossing the border.” (Synopsis from Penguin Random House.)
The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded
by Jim Ottaviani
This biography and graphic novel tells the story of mathematician and scientist Alan Turing—a man arrested and punished for being gay— whose work saved many lives during World War II and whose work continues to have a big impact today.
The Laramie Project
by Moisés Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project
This play—based on interviews conducted in Laramie, Wyoming, in the aftermath of the murder of Matthew Shephard—portrays what happens when a small town becomes the scene of a hate crime and its citizens have to reckon with the horror that has happened.
The Left Hand of Darkness
by Ursula K. Le Guin
"An ambassador is sent to Winter, a world without sexual prejudice, where the inhabitants can change their gender whenever they choose. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in an intergalactic civilization. To do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the culture he encounters." (Synopsis from Ace Books.)
The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves
by James Han Mattson
"A heartbroken and humiliated Ricky Graves took the life of a classmate and himself. ... For those closest to the tormented killer, shock and grief have given way to soul searching." (Synopsis from Little A of Amazon Publishing.)
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali
by Sabina Khan
“Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that impossible to do. She rolls her eyes when they blatantly favor her brother, and saves her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech. But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart.” (Synopsis from Scholastic.)
The Music of What Happens
by Bill Konigsberg
“Max: Chill. Sports. Video games. Gay and not a big deal, not to him, not to his mom, not to his buddies. And a secret: An encounter with an older kid that makes it hard to breathe, one that he doesn’t want to think about, ever. Jordan: The opposite of chill. Poetry. His ‘wives’ and the Chandler Mall. Never been kissed and searching for Mr. Right, who probably won’t like him anyway. And a secret: A spiraling out of control mother, and the knowledge that he’s the only one who can keep the family from falling apart.” (Synopsis from Arthur A. Levine Books.)
The Necessary Hunger
by Nina Revoyr
Nancy Takahiro and Raina Webber are basketball rivals. But when their parents move in together, and the girls fall in love, things get complicated as Nancy and Raina navigate love in an L.A. neighborhood experiencing racial tension between Asian Americans and African Americans.
The Porcupine of Truth
by Bill Konigsberg
Protagonist Carson Smith confronts issues of his family history, gay history, race and religion during a summer spent in Montana.
The Price of Salt, or Carol
by Patricia Highsmith
Originally published under the author’s pseudonym of Claire Morgan, this novel was revolutionary upon its release in 1952, due to exploring a lesbian relationship and offering a happy (or at least, non-tragic) ending.
The T Word
Presented by Laverne Cox, this documentary from MTV and Logo TV details the lives of seven transgender youth ranging in age from 12 to 24 and offers a call to action: a call for complete justice, respect and inclusion.
The Year We Thought About Love
This documentary celebrates the powerful work of a Boston LGBTQ youth theatre troupe as they transform their personal struggles into theater for social change and write a play about love. (Synopsis adapted from New Day Films.)
Troublemaker for Justice: The Story of Bayard Rustin
by Michael G Long, Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle
“A biography for younger readers about one of the most influential activists of our time.” This book introduces students to a key organizer behind movements for Black freedom and gay rights during the 20th century—somone who is too often erased from historic narratives. (Synopsis from City Lights Books.)
by Jenny Downham
In this multigenerational novel, Katie starts putting together the life story of her grandmother who has dementia. As a result, she begins to understand her mother’s behavior, her sexuality, the future and her younger brother. (Synopsis adapted from David Fickling Books.)
Under the Udala Trees
by Chinelo Okparanta
Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does. Born before independence, she is 11 when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. When she falls in love with another girl from a different ethnic community, Ijeoma learns that she may have to hide this part of herself. (Synopsis adapted from Mariner Books.)
by Billy Merrell
This novel chronicles the twists and turns of the emotional chemistry between a high-school-age gay couple. An ingenius work of prose poetry, this story realistically captures the internal worlds of adolescents as they inquire into gay, asexual and nonbinary identities.
We Are the Ants
by Shaun David Hutchinson
"Henry has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. Then the aliens give him an ultimatum: The world will end in 144 days, and all Henry has to do to stop it is push a big red button." (Synopsis from Simon Pulse of Simon & Schuster.) In the wake of family struggles and his boyfriend’s suicide, Henry decides he needs to think about it—scientifically.
Weird Girl and What’s His Name
by Meagan Brothers
In rural Hawthorne, North Carolina, 17-year-olds Lula and her gay friend Rory share everything—including that feeling that they don’t quite fit in. When a schism comes between them, Lula questions her own sexual orientation and identity, and runs away to find her mother—and answers. (Synopsis adapted from Three Rooms Press.)
What If It’s Us
by Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera
“ARTHUR is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it. BEN thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things. But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?” (Synopsis from HarperCollins Publishers.)
When the Moon was Ours
by Anna-Marie McLemore
Through magical realism and metaphorical prose, this book follows the relationship between Miel, a Latina girl, and Sam, a Pakistani trans boy. The book navigates the intersections of their identities and how it forces them to interact with their world.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson
by John Green and David Levithan
Two teens with the same name meet in Chicago. With alternating narrators, this book gives both of their perspectives. Will Grayson 1 is the only straight male in the Gay Straight Alliance; Will Grayson 2 is battling depression and coming to terms with being gay. Once they meet, they change each other’s lives.
You Brought Me the Ocean
by Alex Sanchez, Julie Maroh
“Jake Hyde doesn’t swim—not since his father drowned. Luckily, he lives in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, which is in the middle of the desert, yet he yearns for the ocean and is determined to leave his hometown for a college on the coast. But his best friend, Maria, wants nothing more than to make a home in the desert, and Jake’s mother encourages him to always play it safe. There’s nothing ‘safe’ about Jake’s future—not when he’s attracted to Kenny Liu, swim team captain and rebel against conformity. And certainly not when he secretly applies to Miami University. Jake’s life begins to outpace his small town’s namesake, which doesn’t make it any easier to come out to his mom, or Maria, or the world.” (Synopsis from DC Comics.)
You Should See Me in a Crown
by Leah Johnson
“Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay—Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor. But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down...until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. … The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams...or make them come true?” (Synopsis from Scholastic.)
A Queer History of the United States
by Michael Bronski
“A Queer History of the United States is more than a ‘who’s who’ of queer history: it is a book that radically challenges how we understand American history. Drawing upon primary-source documents, literature, and cultural histories, scholar and activist Michael Bronski charts the breadth of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history, from 1492 to the 1990s.” (Synopsis from Penguin Random House.)
A Rainbow Thread: An Anthology of Queer Jewish Texts From the First Century to 1969
by Noam Sienna
“Spanning almost two millennia and containing translations from more than a dozen languages, Noam Sienna’s new book … collects for the first time more than a hundred sources on the intersection of Jewish and queer identities.” (Synopsis from Print-O-Craft Press.)
Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society and the Meaning of Sex
by Angela Chen
“This accessible examination of asexuality shows that the issues that aces face—confusion around sexual activity, the intersection of sexuality and identity, navigating different needs in relationships—are the same conflicts that nearly all of us will experience. Through a blend of reporting, cultural criticism, and memoir, Ace addresses the misconceptions around the ‘A’ of LGBTQIA and invites everyone to rethink pleasure and intimacy.” (Synopsis from Beacon Press.)
by James Baldwin
This novel spans settings from Greenwich Village to France and beyond to present the intersections of gender, race and sexuality among a group of friends in the 1970s. Much of James Baldwin’s catalogue serves as necessary reading for educators hoping to elevate queer voices in their curriculum and understand the intersectional perspective of queer people of color in the 20th Century, who faced discrimination and self-policing. Excerpts of Baldwin’s work could be appropriate for high school students.
Black Boy Out of Time
by Hari Ziyad
“One of nineteen children in a blended family, Hari Ziyad was raised by a Hindu Hare Kṛṣṇa mother and a Muslim father. Through reframing their own coming-of-age story, Ziyad takes readers on a powerful journey of growing up queer and Black in Cleveland, Ohio, and of navigating the equally complex path toward finding their true self in New York City.” (Synopsis from Amazon Publishing.)
Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity
by C. Riley Snorton
“C. Riley Snorton identifies multiple intersections between blackness and transness from the mid-nineteenth century to present-day anti-black and anti-trans legislation and violence. Drawing on a deep and varied archive of materials, Snorton attends to how slavery and the production of racialized gender provided the foundations for an understanding of gender as mutable.” (Synopsis from University of Minnesota Press.)
Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza
by Gloria Anzaldúa
"Rooted in Gloria Anzaldúa’s experience as a Chicana, a lesbian, an activist and a writer, the essays and poems in this volume profoundly challenged, and continue to challenge, how we think about identity." (Synopsis from Aunt Lute Books.)
Brother to Brother: New Writing by Black Gay Men
begun by Joseph Beam and completed by editor Essex Hemphill
“A collection of now-classic literary work by Black gay male writers.” (Synopsis from Redbone Press.)
Coming Out to the Streets: LGBTQ Youth Experiencing Homelessness
by Brandon Andrew Robinson
“Based on interviews and ethnographic fieldwork in central Texas, Coming Out to the Streets looks into the LGBTQ youth’s lives before they experience homelessness—within their families, schools, and other institutions—and later when they navigate the streets, deal with police, and access shelters and other services.” (Synopsis from University of California Press.)
by Meredith Talusan
“A memoir about a precocious boy with albinism, a ‘sun child’ from a rural Philippine village, who would grow up to become a woman in America.” (Synopsis from Penguin Random House.)
Female Husbands: A Trans History
by Jen Manion
“Long before people identified as transgender or lesbian, there were female husbands and the women who loved them. Female husbands—people assigned female who transed gender, lived as men, and married women—were true queer pioneers. Moving deftly from the colonial era to just before the First World War, Jen Manion uncovers the riveting and very personal stories of ordinary people who lived as men despite tremendous risk, danger, violence, and threat of punishment.” (Synopsis from Cambridge University Press.)
Forget Burial: HIV Kinship, Disability, and Queer/Trans Narratives of Care
by Marty Fink
“The queer and trans care-giving kinships that formed in response to HIV continue to inspire how we have sex and build chosen families in the present. In unearthing HIV community newsletters, media, zines, porn, literature, and even vampires, Forget Burial bridges early HIV care-giving activisms with contemporary disability movements. In refusing to bury the legacies of long-term survivors and of those we have lost, this book brings early HIV kinships together with ongoing movements for queer and trans body self-determination.” (Synopsis from Rutgers University Press.)
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
by Alison Bechdel
"This memoir and graphic novel offers a darkly funny family tale, marked by gothic twists, a family funeral home, sexual angst and great books." (Synopsis from Mariner Books.) This book is often challenged, but excerpts may be appropriate for high school classrooms.
by Pamela Sneed
“In this collection of personal essays and poetry, acclaimed poet and performer Pamela Sneed details her coming of age in New York City during the late 1980s. Funeral Diva captures the impact of AIDS on Black Queer life, and highlights the enduring bonds between the living, the dying, and the dead.” (Synopsis from City Lights Books.)
Gender Diversity and LGBTQ Inclusion in K–12 Schools: A Guide to Supporting Students, Changing Lives
This collection of essays—which includes a chapter by LFJ Grants Coordinator Jey Ehrenhalt—offers tips for creating an LGBTQ-inclusive environment, curriculum and pedagogy at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
GSA Advisor Handbook
Published by the National Association of GSA Networks, this guide gives current and future GSA advisors tips on establishing and maintaining a strong alliance for queer students and allies.
Honeypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women
by E. Patrick Johnson
“Honeypot opens with the fictional trickster character Miss B. barging into the home of Dr. EPJ, informing him that he has been chosen to collect and share the stories of her people. With little explanation, she whisks the reluctant Dr. EPJ away to the women-only world of Hymen, where she serves as his tour guide as he bears witness to the real-life stories of queer Black women throughout the American South. ... Combining oral history with magical realism and poetry, Honeypot is an engaging and moving book that reveals the complexity of identity while offering a creative method for scholarship to represent the lives of other people in a rich and dynamic way.” (Synopsis from Duke University Press.)
How We Fight For Our Lives
by Saeed Jones
“A stunning coming-of-age memoir about a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears.” (Synopsis from Simon and Schuster.)
I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters
Edited by Michael G. Long
“Here we have Rustin in his own words in a collection of over 150 of his eloquent, impassioned letters. ... Bayard Rustin’s ability to chart the path from protest to politics is both timely and deeply informative. Here, at last, is direct access to the strategic thinking and tactical planning that led to the successes of one of America’s most transformative and historic social movements.” (Synopsis from City Lights Books.)
LGBTQ Voices in Education: Changing the Culture of Schooling
"Emphasizing socially just curricula, supportive school climates and transformative educational practices," this book is "designed to help educators find the inspiration and support they need to become allies and advocates for queer students." (Synopsis from Routledge.)
Living Out Islam: Voices of Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Muslims
by Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle
This book features interviews with LGBTQ Muslims from various countries who speak to the intersections of their faith and queer identities.
Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry
by Imani Perry
“A revealing portrait of one of the most gifted and charismatic, yet least understood, Black artists and intellectuals of the twentieth century.” (Synopsis from Penguin Random House.)
Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin
by John D’Emilio
“Despite his incontrovertibly integral role in the movement, the openly gay Rustin is not the household name that many of his activist contemporaries are. ... Historian John D’Emilio explains why Rustin’s influence was minimized by his peers and why his brilliant strategies were not followed, or were followed by those he never meant to help.” (Synopsis from The University of Chicago Press.)
Mama’s Boy, Preacher’s Son
by Kevin Jennings
“Long before [GLSEN founder] Kevin Jennings began advocating to end anti-LGBT bias in schools, he was a victim of it. ... Jennings traces the roots of his activism to his elementary school days in the conservative South.” (Synopsis from Penguin Random House.)
My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity
by Kate Bornstein
"Complete with quizzes, exercises and puzzles, Bornstein gently but firmly guides readers toward discovering their own unique gender identity." (Synopsis from Routledge.)
No Ashes in the Fire
by Darnell L. Moore
“When Darnell Moore was fourteen, three boys from his neighborhood tried to set him on fire. They cornered him while he was walking home from school, harassed him because they thought he was gay, and poured a jug of gasoline on him. He escaped, but just barely. ... Three decades later, Moore is an award-winning writer, a leading Black Lives Matter activist, and an advocate for justice and liberation. In No Ashes in the Fire, he shares the journey taken by that scared, bullied teenager who not only survived, but found his calling.” (Synopsis from Bold Type Books.)
No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies
Edited by E. Patrick Johnson
“This collection’s contributors speak new truths about the black queer experience while exemplifying the codification of black queer studies as a rigorous and important field of study.” (Synopsis from Duke University Press.)
Not Straight, Not White: Black Gay Men from the March on Washington to the AIDS Crisis
by Kevin J. Mumford
"Examining the lives of both famous and little-known Black gay activists—from James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin to Joseph Beam and Brother Grant-Michael Fitzgerald—Mumford analyzes the ways in which movements for social change both inspired and marginalized Black gay men." (Synopsis from University of North Carolina Press.)
Out & Allied: An Anthology of Performance Pieces Written by LGBTQ Youth and Allies
This collection offers both student voices and action steps for facilitating dialogue within families, schools, organizations and faith-based communities about LGBTQ youth and allies.
Out in the Periphery: Latin America’s Gay Rights Revolution
by Omar G. Encarnación
“Going against the conventional wisdom that sees Latin America’s gay rights ‘revolution’ as a byproduct of a tidal wave of external influence—from the gay liberation politics unleashed by New York’s 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, to the globalization of American homosexual identities, to the international diffusion of policy ideas such as gay marriage—this study aims to ‘decenter’ gay rights politics.” (Abstract from Oxford Scholarship Online.)
Queer Brown Voices: Personal Narratives of Latina/o LGBT Activism
This book aims to counter the erasure of LGBTQ history and activism within the Latino community of the 20th century, featuring essays and oral history interviews of 14 Latinx activists.
Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics, and Literature
Edited by Qwo-Li Driskill, Chris Finley, Brian Joseph Gilley and Scott Lauria Morgensen
“Based on the reality that queer Indigenous people ‘experience multilayered oppression that profoundly impacts our safety, health, and survival,’ this book is at once an imagining and an invitation to the reader to join in the discussion of decolonizing queer Indigenous research and theory and, by doing so, to partake in allied resistance working toward positive change.” (Synopsis from University of Arizona Press.)
Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States
by Joey K. Mogul, Andrea J. Ritchie and Kay Whitlock
“Drawing on years of research, activism, and legal advocacy, Queer (In)Justice is a searing examination of queer experiences as ‘suspects,’ defendants, prisoners, and survivors of crime. The authors unpack queer criminal archetypes ... to illustrate the punishment of queer expression, regardless of whether a crime was ever committed. Tracing stories from the streets to the bench to behind prison bars, the authors prove that the policing of sex and gender both bolsters and reinforces racial and gender inequalities.” (Synopsis from Penguin Random House.)
Reading the Rainbow: LGBTQ-Inclusive Literacy Instruction in the Elementary Classroom
by Caitlin L. Ryan and Jill M. Hermann-Wilmarth
"Drawing on examples of teaching from elementary school classrooms, this timely book for practitioners explains why LGBTQ-inclusive literacy instruction is possible, relevant and necessary in grades K–5." (Synopsis from Teachers College Press.)
Ready, Set, Respect!: GLSEN’s Elementary School Toolkit
This resource from GLSEN provides K–5 teachers with tips for creating a more inclusive environment and lessons aligned with Common Core State Standards.
Safe is Not Enough: Better Schools for LGBTQ Students
by Michael Sadowski
Utilizing nationwide examples, "Michael Sadowski identifies emerging practices such as creating an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum; fostering a whole-school climate that is supportive of LGBTQ students; providing adults who can act as mentors and role models; and initiating effective family and community outreach programs." (Synopsis from Harvard Education Press.)
by Jacob Tobia
“Following Jacob through bullying and beauty contests, from Duke University to the United Nations to the podiums of the Methodist church—not to mention the parlors of the White House—this unforgettable memoir contains multitudes. A deeply personal story of trauma and healing, a powerful reflection on gender and self-acceptance, and a hilarious guidebook for wearing tacky clip-on earrings in today’s world.” (Synopsis from Penguin Random House.)
Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature
Edited by Qwo-Li Driskill, Daniel Heath Justice, Deborah Miranda and Lisa Tatonetti
“This landmark collection strives to reflect the complexity of identities within Native Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Two-Spirit (GLBTQ2) communities. Gathering together the work of established writers and talented new voices, this anthology spans genres (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and essay) and themes (memory, history, sexuality, indigeneity, friendship, family, love, and loss) and represents a watershed moment in Native American and Indigenous literatures, Queer studies, and the intersections between the two.” (Synopsis from University of Arizona Press.)
Stepping Up!: Teachers Advocating for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Schools
by Mollie V. Blackburn, Caroline T. Clark and Ryan Schey
Building on interviews with parents, students, teachers and administrators, this book offers concrete examples of advocacy and creating welcoming classroom climates for LGBTQ and gender diverse youth. (Synopsis adapted from Routledge.)
Stone Butch Blues
by Leslie Feinberg
This novel follows Jess Goldberg, who navigates the complexities of being transgender in the mid-20th century. Though some of the language has since become outdated, it remains a seminal work.
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson
This documentary—with never-before-seen footage and rediscovered interviews—searches for the truth behind the mysterious death of Black transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson, a name that belongs in any survey of LGBTQ history and activism.
The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America
by Eric Cervini
“Based on firsthand accounts, recently declassified FBI records, and forty thousand personal documents, Eric Cervini’s The Deviant’s War ... traces the forgotten ties that bound gay rights to the Black Freedom Movement, the New Left, lesbian activism, and trans resistance. Above all, it is a story of America (and Washington) at a cultural and sexual crossroads; of shocking, byzantine public battles with Congress; of FBI informants; murder; betrayal; sex; love; and ultimately victory.” (Synopsis from Macmillan Publishers.)
Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability
by Jack Halberstam
A book that blends academic research with popular culture trends to imagine a more inclusive understanding of gender, and to reckon with a recent shift in how we talk about gender and bodies.
Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution
by Susan Stryker
“Covering American transgender history from the mid-twentieth century to today, Transgender History takes a chronological approach to the subject of transgender history, with each chapter covering major movements, writings, and events.” (Synopsis from Seal Press.)
Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility
Edited by Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley and Johanna Burton
“Essays, conversations, and archival investigations explore the paradoxes, limitations, and social ramifications of trans representation within contemporary culture.” (Synopsis from MIT Press.)
Understanding and Teaching U.S. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History
This book is designed to help university and high school teachers integrate queer history into their curriculum. The anthology includes a contextualizing of fascinating queer history, as well as detailed suggestions as to how those histories can be presented in the classroom, including assignments.
We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir
by Samra Habib
“Samra Habib has spent most of her life searching for the safety to be herself. As an Ahmadi Muslim growing up in Pakistan, she faced regular threats from Islamic extremists who believed the small, dynamic sect to be blasphemous. From her parents, she internalized the lesson that revealing her identity could put her in grave danger. ... So begins an exploration of faith, art, love, and queer sexuality, a journey that takes her to the far reaches of the globe to uncover a truth that was within her all along.” (Synopsis from Penguin Random House.)
When We Rise: My Life in the Movement
by Cleve Jones
Jones chronicles the heartbreak of the AIDS epidemic and his role in co-founding the San Francisco AIDS Foundation as well as conceiving the idea behind the AIDS Memorial Quilt. These stories are told from a friend of Harvey Milk and himself a hero to the LGBTQ community. (Synopsis adapted from Hachette Books.)
Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
by Julia Serano
Julia Serano draws from her life before and after transitioning to illustrate "the ways in which fear, suspicion and dismissiveness toward femininity shape our societal attitudes toward trans women." (Synopsis from Hachette Books.)
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
by Audre Lorde
Combining elements of biography, myth and history, with this book, first published in 1982, Lorde explores her intersectional experiences as a Black queer woman with disabilities, from Harlem to Mexico.
For shorter, classroom-ready texts reflecting LGBTQ history and lived experiences, visit the Texts page and filter for Topic: Gender & Sexual Identity.