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It is not appropriate as educators to tell students what to believe, but it is our duty to foster an environment that welcomes every individual and provides a safe space where they can learn. 

Schools are to be a microcosm of society at large in which students can practice the types of interactions they will be participating in as adults. Consequently, citizenship has become as much a part of most curriculums as Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.

In honor of PRIDE month, we wanted to give our readers some ideas on how to integrate literature with LGBTQ+ characters into your classrooms.

Regardless of your religious/political/social views, you will have students in your classroom who identify as LGBTQ+, are questioning their sexuality, and/or have close family members and/or friends who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. Taking this into consideration, you are likely to also have students who are being picked on or bullied for any of these circumstances.

This also means treating the use of derogatory, homophobic comments or slang as seriously as you would any other form of prejudice or bigotry. Make your classroom a safe and uplifting place for every student by banning the use of insults, whether they are about race, class, intelligence, or sexuality.

Integrating LGBTQ+ Literature

Gone are the days when the only book that addresses the LGBTQ+ population is the groundbreaking 1989 children’s book Heather Has Two Mommies

And hopefully, gone are the days when students, parents, or teachers have to hide their identities in fear.

Many teachers feel nervous even broaching this topic, choosing rather to ignore it completely or quickly changing the subject if a question or discussion goes in that direction. But, cultivating an LGBTQ+-friendly, tolerant, and inclusive environment doesn’t mean pushing an agenda, nor does it require labeling a unit as the LGBTQ+ unit. It simply means treating LGBTQ+ students, characters, history, and current events with the same equality, dignity, and respect you do with every other population. 

For starters, add some titles to your classroom library that have LGBTQ+ characters. It would also be good to have some nonfiction titles available as well. 

Integrate literary pieces into your instruction with LGBTQ+ characters or authors and model for your students the respect you expect in your classroom. Don’t shy away from the relevant biographical information regarding the sexuality of authors, such as Sappho, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Lord Byron,  Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Langston Hughes, Virginia Woolfe, Gertrude Stein, or Alice Walker.

As with all content, you should make sure that you have properly vetted, studied, and received approval for any piece before teaching it or even adding it to your classroom library.

Elementary Titles

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Annie’s Plaid Shirt by Stacy B. Davids

Antonio’s Card/La Tarjeta de Antonio by Rigoberto González

The Family Book by Todd Parr

I Am Jazz by Jazz Jennings and Jessica Herthel

In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco

Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino

One of a Kind, Like Me/Único Como Yo by Laurin Mayeno

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

Junior High Titles

The Best Man by Richard Peck

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle

Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun by Jacqueline Woodson

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

The House You Pass on the Way by Jacqueline Woodson

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

The Misfits series by James Howe

High School Titles

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Boy Robot by Simon Curtis

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Lark in the Morning by Nancy Garden

Love Rules by Marilyn Reynolds

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

Rainbow Boys, Alex Sanchez - trilogy: Rainbow High & Rainbow Road

Vanilla by Billy Merrell

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Nonfiction Titles

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Teen Literature by Carlisle Webber

Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGBT Rights by Jerome Pohlen

GLBTAQ: The Survival Guide For Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens by Kelly Huegel 

It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living by Dan Savage and Terry Miller

LGBTQ+ Athletes Claim the Field: Striving for Equality by Kirstin Cronn-Mills and Alex Jackson Nelson

Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community by Robin Stevenson

Queer Girls in Class: Lesbian Teachers and Students Tell Their Classroom Stories by Lori Horvitz

Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager

Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum


Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network 

Gender Diversity and LGBTQ Inclusion in K–12 Schools: A Guide to Supporting Students, Changing Lives by Sharon Verner Chappell, Karyl E. Ketchum, & Lisa Richardson

GSA Advisor Handbook

The Heart Has Its Reasons: Young Adult Literature with Gay/ Lesbian/Queer Content, 1969-2004 by Cart Michael and Christine A Jenkins

Invitation to All: Welcoming Gays and Lesbians into My Classroom and Curriculum” by Patricia Daniel, English Journal, 96:5 (2007): 75-80.

LGBTQ Voices in Education: Changing the Culture of Schooling

Reading the Rainbow: LGBTQ-Inclusive Literacy Instruction in the Elementary Classroom by Caitlin L. Ryan and Jill M. Hermann-Wilmarth

Ready, Set, Respect!: GLSEN’s Elementary School Toolkit

Representing the Rainbow in Young Adult Literature: LGBTQ+ Content since 1969 by Christine Jenkins 

Safe is Not Enough: Better Schools for LGBTQ Students by Michael Sadowski

Stepping Up!: Teachers Advocating for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Schools by Mollie V. Blackburn, Caroline T. Clark and Ryan Schey

Teaching Tolerance,, Best Practices for Serving LGBTQ Students 

Yes, You Can! LGBTQ Literature in the Classroom and the Library

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