PUBLICATION

Appendix A


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.

Jump to Middle School  |  High School  |  Professional Development

 

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.

 

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

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.

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.

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.

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.

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). 

 

MIDDLE SCHOOL

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.

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.

Double Exposure
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.

Drama
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.

Gracefully Grayson
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.

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.

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 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.

 

HIGH SCHOOL

Almost Perfect
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.

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.

Bait
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.

Boy Robot
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.

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)

Deep Run
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.

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.

Fat Angie
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.

Fingersmith
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Kiki
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.

Labyrinth Lost
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.

Major!
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.

Maurice
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.

Middlesex
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.

Money Boy
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.

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. 

Raising Zoey
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.

Saving Alex
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.

Skim
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.

Sister Outsider
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 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.

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 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 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 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).

Unbecoming
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). 

Vanilla
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).

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.

 

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Another Country
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.

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). 

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.

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 TT 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.

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.

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). 

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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).

 

For shorter, classroom-ready texts reflecting LGBTQ history and lived experiences, visit the Texts page and filter for Topic: Gender & Sexual Identity.

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Teaching Tolerance collage of images

Welcome to Learning for Justice—Formerly Teaching Tolerance!

Our work has evolved in the last 30 years, from reducing prejudice to tackling systemic injustice. So we’ve chosen a new name that better reflects that evolution: Learning for Justice.

Learn More