YA Books on The LGBTQIA+ Experience | Facing History & Ourselves
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YA Books on The LGBTQIA+ Experience

Engage students in important themes raised in these books that center and speak to the experiences of LGBTQIA+ people.

As we honor Pride Month this June, we celebrate the success stories of pioneering heroes and hardfought progress in LGBTQIA+ representation, inclusion, and equal rights. We also recognize the challenges and threats the LGBTQIA+ community continue to face. While it's an important element of any classroom to deepen knowledge of and attention to histories and contemporary experiences of historically marginalized communities such as this, it's also a critical element in building an affirming, welcoming classroom community that fosters a sense of belonging for students. 

Teaching through literature is one way to connect students to stories of people who have a wide range of lived experiences, both similar and different to their own. The following YA titles address themes spanning activism, coming of age, school bullying, immigration, and navigating family relationships from the perspectives of a diverse array of LGBTQIA+ narrators. As you explore these titles, check out Facing History's resource on implementing book clubs that build community and help students make meaningful connections to books they are excited to read: Centering Student Voice & Choice: A Book Club Guide.

Yesterday is History

by Kosoko Jackson

Yesterday is History

by Kosoko Jackson

“Weeks ago, Andre Cobb received a much-needed liver transplant. He's ready for his life to finally begin, until one night, when he passes out and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected...in 1969, where he connects with a magnetic boy named Michael. And then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he slips back to present-day Boston, where the family of his donor is waiting to explain that his new liver came with a side effect―the ability to time travel. And they've tasked their youngest son, Blake, with teaching Andre how to use his unexpected new gift. Andre splits his time bouncing between the past and future. Between Michael and Blake. Michael is everything Andre wishes he could be, and Blake, still reeling from the death of his brother, Andre's donor, keeps him at arm's length despite their obvious attraction to each other. Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs―and more importantly who he wants to be―before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and change his future for good.” ―Sourcebooks Fire

Can’t Take That Away

by Steven Salvatore

Can’t Take That Away

by Steven Salvatore

“Carey Parker dreams of being a diva, and bringing the house down with song. They can hit every note of all the top pop and Broadway hits. But despite their talent, emotional scars from an incident with a homophobic classmate and their grandmother's spiraling dementia make it harder and harder for Carey to find their voice.

Then Carey meets Cris, a singer/guitarist who makes Carey feel seen for the first time in their life. With the rush of a promising new romantic relationship, Carey finds the confidence to audition for the role of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the school musical, setting off a chain reaction of prejudice by Carey's tormentor and others in the school. It's up to Carey, Cris, and their friends to defend their rights―and they refuse to be silenced… Steven Salvatore's Can't Take That Away conducts a powerful, uplifting anthem, a swoony romance, and an affirmation of self-identity that will ignite the activist in all of us.” ―Bloomsbury YA

The (Un)Popular Vote

by Jasper Sanchez

The (Un)Popular Vote

By Jasper Sanchez

“Optics can make or break an election. Everything Mark knows about politics, he learned from his father, the Congressman who still pretends he has a daughter and not a son. Mark has promised to keep his past hidden and pretend to be the cis guy everyone assumes he is. But when he sees a manipulatively charming candidate for student body president inflame dangerous rhetoric, Mark risks his low profile to become a political challenger.

The problem? No one really knows Mark. He didn’t grow up in this town, and his few friends are all nerds. Still, thanks to Scandal and The West Wing, they know where to start: from campaign stops to voter polling to a fashion makeover. Soon Mark feels emboldened to engage with voters—and even start a new romance. But with an investigative journalist digging into his past, a father trying to silence him, and the bully frontrunner standing in his way, Mark will have to decide which matters most: perception or truth, when both are just as dangerous.”
―Katherine Tegen Books

Meet Cute Diary

by Emery Lee

Meet Cute Diary

By Emery Lee

“Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.

When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page. In this charming novel by Emery Lee, Noah will have to choose between following his own rules for love or discovering that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script.” ―Quill Tree Books

How it All Blew Up

by Arvin Ahmadi 

How it All Blew Up

by Arvin Ahmadi 

“Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy―he just didn't think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right?

Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature... until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a US Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom. At turns uplifting and devastating, How It All Blew Up is Arvin Ahmadi's most powerful novel yet, a celebration of how life's most painful moments can live alongside the riotous, life-changing joys of discovering who you are.” ―Viking Books for Young Readers

Small Town Pride

by Phil Stamper

Small Town Pride

by Phil Stamper

“Jake is just starting to enjoy life as his school’s first openly gay kid. While his family and friends are accepting and supportive, the same can’t be said about everyone in their small town of Barton Springs, Ohio. When Jake’s dad hangs a comically large pride flag in their front yard in an overblown show of love, the mayor begins to receive complaints. A few people are even concerned the flag will lead to something truly outlandish: a pride parade.

Except Jake doesn’t think that’s a ridiculous idea. Why can’t they hold a pride festival in Barton Springs? The problem is, Jake knows he’ll have to get approval from the town council, and the mayor won’t be on his side. And as Jake and his friends try to find a way to bring Pride to Barton Springs, it seems suspicious that the mayor’s son, Brett, suddenly wants to spend time with Jake. But someone that cute couldn’t possibly be in league with his mayoral mother, could he?”
–HarperCollins

Kings of B'more

by R. Eric Thomas 

Kings of B'more

by R. Eric Thomas 

“Two Black queer best friends face their last day together with an epic journey through Baltimore in this magnetic YA debut by bestselling author of Here for It, R. Eric Thomas…

With junior year starting in the fall, Harrison feels like he’s on the precipice of, well, everything. Standardized testing, college, and the terrifying unknowns and looming pressures of adulthood after that—it’s like the future wants to eat him alive. Which is why Harrison is grateful that he and his best friend, Linus, will face these things together. But at the end of a shift at their summer job, Linus invites Harrison to their special spot overlooking the city to deliver devastating news: He’s moving out of state at the end of the week.

To keep from completely losing it—and partially inspired by a cheesy movie-night pick by his dad—Harrison plans a send-off à la Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that's worthy of his favorite person. If they won’t be having all the life-expanding experiences they thought they would, Harrison will squeeze them all into their last day together. They end up on a mini road trip, their first Pride, and a rooftop dance party, all while keeping their respective parents, who track them on a family location app, off their trail. Harrison and Linus make a pact to do all the things—big and small—they’ve been too scared to do. But nothing feels scarier than saying goodbye to someone you love.” –Kokila 

Lakelore

by Anna-Marie McLemore 

Lakelore

by Anna-Marie McLemore 

“In this young adult novel by award-winning author Anna-Marie McLemore, two non-binary teens are pulled into a magical world under a lake - but can they keep their worlds above water intact?...

Everyone who lives near the lake knows the stories about the world underneath it, an ethereal landscape rumored to be half-air, half-water. But Bastián Silvano and Lore Garcia are the only ones who’ve been there. Bastián grew up both above the lake and in the otherworldly space beneath it. Lore’s only seen the world under the lake once, but that one encounter changed their life and their fate.

Then the lines between air and water begin to blur. The world under the lake drifts above the surface. If Bastián and Lore don’t want it bringing their secrets to the surface with it, they have to stop it, and to do that, they have to work together. There’s just one problem: Bastián and Lore haven’t spoken in seven years, and working together means trusting each other with the very things they’re trying to hide.”
–Feiwel & Friends

The Loophole

by Naz Kutu

The Loophole

by Naz Kutu

“A gay Muslim boy travels the world for a second chance at love after a possibly magical heiress grants him three wishes in this YA debut that's Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda with a twist of magic…

Sy placed all his bets for happiness on his boyfriend, Farouk . . . who then left him to try and ‘fix the world.’ Now, the timid seventeen-year-old Indian Muslim boy is stuck in a dead-end coffee shop job and all he can do is wish for one more chance . . .

Sy never expects his wish to be granted. But when a mysterious girl offers him three wishes in exchange for his help and proves she can grant at least one wish with an instant million-dollar deposit into Sy's struggling bank account, a whole new world of possibility opens up. Is she magic? Or just rich? And can Sy find the courage to leave Los Angeles and cross the Atlantic Ocean to lands he'd never even dreamed he could visit, all to track down his missing ex? With help from his potentially otherworldly new friend, will Sy go all the way for one last, desperate chance at rebuilding his life and refinding love?” –Bloomsbury YA

Once More with Chutzpah

by Haley Neil

Once More with Chutzpah

by Haley Neil

“A moving YA debut about a girl who grapples with questions of her Jewish identity, mental health struggles, and sexuality while on a temple exchange trip through Israel… When high school senior Tally and her twin brother Max head off on an exchange trip to Israel over their winter break, Tally thinks it will be a good distraction for Max; he might be trying to hide it, but she knows he's still struggling in the wake of a car crash that injured him and killed the driver…

But as the group travels across the country, Tally realizes her plan might not be working, and that her brother might not be the only one with a lot on his mind. When a new relationship gets complicated in the face of her own anxiety-about her future, her sexual and romantic identity, and her place within the Jewish diaspora. Tally must grapple not only with the past, but also with what life will be like when they get back home.” –Bloomsbury YA

Like Other Girls

by Britta Lundin

Like Other Girls

by Britta Lundin

“After getting kicked off the basketball team…Mara is dying to find a new sport to play to prove to her coach that she can be a team player. A lifelong football fan, Mara decides to hit the gridiron with her brother, Noah, and best friend, Quinn―and she turns out to be a natural. But joining the team sets off a chain of events in her small Oregon town―and within her family―that she never could have predicted.

Inspired by what they see as Mara’s political statement, four other girls join the team. Now Mara’s lumped in as one of the girls―one of the girls who can’t throw, can’t kick, and doesn’t know a fullback from a linebacker. Complicating matters is the fact that Valentina, Mara’s crush, is one of the new players, as is Carly, Mara’s nemesis―the girl Mara fought with when she was kicked off the basketball team. What results is a coming-of-age story that is at once tear-jerking and funny, thought-provoking and real, as Mara’s preconceived notions about gender, sports, sexuality, and friendship are turned upside down.”
–Disney-Hyperion 

Queer Ducks (and Other Animals): The Natural World of Animal Sexuality

by Eliot Schrefer 

Queer Ducks (and Other Animals): The Natural World of Animal Sexuality

by Eliot Schrefer 

“This groundbreaking illustrated YA nonfiction title from two-time National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Eliot Schrefer is a well-researched and teen-friendly exploration of the gamut of queer behaviors observed in animals. A quiet revolution has been underway in recent years, with study after study revealing substantial same-sex sexual behavior in animals. Join celebrated author Eliot Schrefer on an exploration of queer behavior in the animal world—from albatrosses to bonobos to clownfish to doodlebugs.

In sharp and witty prose—aided by humorous comics from artist Jules Zuckerberg—Schrefer uses science, history, anthropology, and sociology to illustrate the diversity of sexual behavior in the animal world. Interviews with researchers in the field offer additional insights for readers and aspiring scientists. Queer behavior in animals is as diverse and complex—and as natural—as it is in our own species. It doesn’t set us apart from animals—it bonds us even closer to our animal selves.”  –Katherine Tegen Books

Cazadora: A Novel (Wolves of No World, 2)

by Romina Garber

Cazadora: A Novel (Wolves of No World, 2)

by Romina Garber

“In Cazadora, Romina Garber weaves together Argentine folklore and what it means to be illegal in a timely, intimate, and emotionally powerful narrative…

Following the events of Lobizona, Manu and her friends cross the mystical border into Kerana―a cursed realm in Argentina―searching for allies and a hiding place. As they chase down leads about the Coven―a mythical resistance manada that might not even exist―the Cazadores chase down leads about Manu, setting up traps to capture and arrest her.  Just as it seems the Cazadores have Manu and her friends cornered, the Coven answers their call for help. As Manu catches her breath among these non-conforming Septimus, she discovers they need a revolution as much as she does.

But is she the right one to lead them? After all, hybrids aren’t just outlawed. They’re feared and reviled. What happens when the Coven learns of Manu’s dual heritage? Will they still protect her? Or will they betray her? And after running this far, for this long―how much farther can Manu go before her feet get tired, and she stops to take a stand?”
–Wednesday Books

A Million Quiet Revolutions

by Robin Gow

A Million Quiet Revolutions

by Robin Gow

“For as long as they can remember, Aaron and Oliver have only ever had each other. In a small town with few queer teenagers, let alone young trans men, they’ve shared milestones like coming out as trans, buying the right binders―and falling for each other.

But just as their relationship has started to blossom, Aaron moves away. Feeling adrift, separated from the one person who understands them, they seek solace in digging deep into the annals of America’s past. When they discover the story of two Revolutionary War soldiers who they believe to have been trans man in love, they’re inspired to pay tribute to these soldiers by adopting their names―Aaron and Oliver. As they learn, they delve further into unwritten queer stories, and they discover the transformative power of reclaiming one’s place in history. Further reading on trans history is included in backmatter.”
–Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

When You Call My Name

by Tucker Shaw

When You Call My Name

by Tucker Shaw

“Tucker Shaw’s When You Call My Name is a heartrending novel about two gay teens coming of age in New York City in 1990 at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic…Film fanatic Adam is seventeen and being asked out on his first date―and the guy is cute. Heart racing, Adam accepts, quickly falling in love with Callum like the movies always promised. Fashion-obsessed Ben is eighteen and has just left his home upstate after his mother discovers his hidden stash of gay magazines. When he comes to New York City, Ben’s sexuality begins to feel less like a secret and more like a badge of honor.

Then Callum disappears, leaving Adam heartbroken, and Ben finds out his new world is more closed-minded than he thought. When Adam finally tracks Callum down, he learns the guy he loves is very ill. And in a chance meeting near the hospital where Callum is being treated, Ben and Adam meet, forever changing each other’s lives. As both begin to open their eyes to the possibilities of queer love and life, they realize sometimes the only people who can help you are the people who can really see you―in all your messy glory. A love letter to New York and the liberating power of queer friendship, When You Call My Name is a hopeful novel about the pivotal moments of our youth that break our hearts and the people who help us put them back together.” –Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

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