LGBTQIA+ themed books for children and teens
Here’s our list of children’s, young adult and teen books featuring LGBTQIA+ themes. Inclusion matters in school libraries, where sections dedicated to LGBTQIA+ themed books are crucial for secondary-aged children and teens. Fostering understanding, supporting diversity, and reflecting the real world, LGBTQIA fiction encourages empathy, combats prejudice, and is vital for students’ holistic education. This list features books by Simon James Green, Alice Oseman, David Levithan, Phil Stamper, Rainbow Rowell, Dean Atta, Meg Grehan, Juno Dawson, Kalynn Bayron, William Hussey and Erin Ekins.
LGBTQIA+ books for secondary schools – our recommendations
Emmett by L. C. Rosen
This Tik-Tok generation LGBTQ+ respin of Emma blends Jane Austen’s cutting class commentary with the aspirational and glamorous romance of Bridgerton. Handsome and clever, Emmett finds himself entangled in matchmaking when his friend-with-benefits, Harrison, seeks a boyfriend. Despite vowing not to date before the age of 25, Emmett explores the complexities of love and loss through a modern queer lens.
Brave Face: A Memoir by Shaun David Hutchinson
Brave Face is a dramatic description of the author’s struggles as a confused gay adolescent dealing with depression. It explores identity, mental health, and the power of positive thinking, self-acceptance, and being openly proud of who you are. This fascinating and moving read is great for book group discussions.
Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell, illustrated by Jim Tierney
With sparkling dialogue, humour and short sharp plots, these nine short stories are beautifully presented in hardback. Including five brand new stories about high school life, loves and experience, readers will be pleased to see the return of Simon Snow. A great gift for teenage Rainbow Rowell fans.
The Last Girls Standing by Jennifer Dugan
Sloan and Cherry are the sole survivors of a summer camp slaughter. They are desperate to understand what happened and why, so they look for leads. But the discovery of significant new evidence detonates everything Sloan knew about that fateful day. She now doesn’t know who she can trust. With a brutal plot twist and page-turning excitement, this modern psychological mystery LGBT horror is impossible to put down.
Broken Hearts & Zombie Parts by William Hussey
Jesse has just one month to do the seemingly impossible – complete an epic zombie flick to get into film school and fall in love before his looks are ruined. This dialogue driven LGBT+ romcom will leave readers gasping as well as laughing out loud. Tackling the pervasive pressures of body image and expectations among gay teens and young men and promoting positive body acceptance, trust and reality. A YA book with a big heart that will encourage teens to accept people for who they are.
Rana Joon and the One and Only Now by Shideh Etaat
Rana Joon is not her Iranian family’s ideal A-grade student. She listens to Tupac, smokes pot, and adores women. On the anniversary of her closest friend’s death, she chooses to confront her doubts and honour him by participating in a rap battle. Will she be able to overcome her insecurities, cultural alienation, and peer pressure to reveal who she truly is? It’s a powerful and thought-provoking read.
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
Shara Wheeler kissed several individuals before disappearing. And any of them could hold the key to finding her. With a razor sharp plot, this brilliant LGBT YA novel will keep teens gripped. It’s an addictive guilty pleasure romance to read in one sitting. A great binge-read.
Dear Mothman by Robin Gow
When Noah’s best friend Lewis is killed in a tragic accident, he feels as if he has lost the only person who knows him as a trans boy. Reminiscing about Lewis’ fantasy stories about cryptids, Noah finds solace in writing letters to Mothman and, over time, feels compelled to find out if Mothman really exists. This is a memorable and indescribably powerful book for 11+ year-olds.
Small Town Pride by Phil Stamper
When 13-year-old Jake comes out, his family and middle school buddies support him. The same cannot be said for Barton Springs, Ohio, and its small-town mindset. When Jake’s father expresses his support by planting a massive pride flag in their front yard, the residents feel threatened and notify the Mayor. Jake is undeterred, however, and decides to organise a town pride march. In an age of book bans and veiled homophobia, this uplifting and upbeat book is a breath of fresh air.
Gwen and Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher
A hilarious and modern LGBTQ+ historical romance with a twist. Gwen and Art – two reluctant allies – face contemporary issues in a medieval world filled with knights, princesses, and political intrigue. With a witty writing style and engaging characters, this YA debut is a must-read for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Alice Oseman. Read Melanie Dillon’s review.
Overemotional by David Fenne
Stephen’s Percival’s emotions get the better of him in spectacular and supernatural ways. The unique debut is the ultimate LGBTQI TikTok superhero romcom for Gen Z. With perhaps the most jaw-droppingly startling and OMG-prompting back cover blurb you’ll read this year, Overemotional is a surefire summer term secondary school library hit. Not to be missed.
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Secondary LGBTQIA+ resources for teachers and schools
- LGBT Youth Scotland offers free resources including a workshop and guide on trans and non-binary coming out, top tips for trans inclusion and a Section 28 lesson plan and assembly.
- Covering LGBTQ+ content in your curriculum. The Key’s guidance shows school leaders “how to weave LGBTQ+ content into your curriculum to make it more inclusive and meet the DfE’s expectations.”
- LGBTQI history month activities and ideas from BBC Teach, with useful multimedia content including Gus talking about coming out and diversity within the LBGT+ community as a gay black man and the history of Gay Pride from battling for acceptance to playing a major part in popular culture.
- The LGBT plus history month resources website contains lesson ideas, a pride flag activity and YouTube links suitable for secondary schools.
- LGBT Education Scotland offers valuable advice and practical examples for how to embed LGBT learning into the curriculum.
- Stonewall’s action planning tools include ‘Ten steps to tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language in your school’ and a guide on how to embed LGBTQ+ inclusive RSHE learning.
- NAHT guidance on embedding LGBT into the curriculum contains useful guidance for governors and trustees of schools, explaining how their roles can shape a school’s journey towards effective inclusion.