It is back-to-school time for many LGBTQ+ students across the country and needless to say, it’s a pretty precarious time. Many anti-LGBTQ+ laws went into effect over the summer, including ones that limit transgender kids’ access to bathrooms and sports teams, as well as banning books featuring LGBTQ+ content. As a result, LGBTQ+ students, especially teens, are without the support they need to explore and affirm their gender identity and orientation.
Thankfully, there are outside resources that students, parents, and teachers can utilize. GLAAD recently published a guide for combating book and school censorship. One key tip for students is using the Brooklyn Library’s Books Unbanned Program, which gives free eCards to students ages 13-21 anywhere in the United States so they can access its digital library and read books that have been challenged in schools.
For those who might need some book suggestions, here are ten must-read books for LGBTQ+ teens.
The Trans Teen Survival Guide by Fox Fisher and Owl
Written by trans youth activists for trans teens, this guide discusses topics that range from binding to dating to gender dysphoria in friendly, approachable language and features accompanying illustrations and words from real trans teens throughout the book. This book aims to be a practical advice guide for transgender and nonbinary teens that instills confidence and helps trans teens feel less alone.
2. The Trans Self-Care Workbook by Theo Nicole Lorenz
Next up is a creative journal and workbook that features coloring pages, journal prompts, and practical advice. Utilizing cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness techniques, this thoughtful guide covers subjects that include body positivity, coming out, and finding support while navigating relationships with friends and family. Whether you are trans, non-binary, or anywhere else gender-wise, this book will help you affirm yourself.
3. The Queer Mental Health Workbook by Brendan J. Dunlop
Discussing a variety of mental health challenges such as self-harm, eating disorders, and low self-esteem, this self-help book uses cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and assertive community treatment in order to help LGBTQ+ people develop healthy coping mechanisms. Written by a queer mental health practitioner, this book is designed to be a resource with strategies that the reader can tailor to suit their own needs.
4. A Quick And Easy Guide To Asexuality by Molly Muldoon and Will Hernandez
Molly Muldoon and Will Hernandez—a writer and illustrator from the ace community—have written the comic book guide to an orientation that often remains invisible. Given that many people on the asexual spectrum grow up thinking that they are broken due to their lack of sexual or romantic attraction, this book is very much needed. In addition to providing validation, this book also serves as a basic introduction to what asexuality is and isn’t through comics and text.
5. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
This memoir-manifesto consists of a series of essays based on the author’s own experiences growing up as a Black queer boy in Plainfield, New Jersey while also addressing Black queer boys who might not have the support they need. Going from childhood to college, the book features candid discussions of good and bad sexual experiences as well as family and brotherhood.
Related: Lamar Dawson interviews “All Boys Aren’t Blue” author George M. Johnson
6. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Felix Love is an artistic trans boy who wants to experience romantic love. When his pre-transition photos are leaked for the world to see, he must figure out the culprit while examining his own sense of self and what kind of love he deserves. Through his experiences with others, Felix Love must look at who and what should determine his worth.
7. The Stars and The Blackness Between Them by Juanada Petrus
Told from the dual viewpoints of an African American queer teen named Mabel and a Trinidadian teen named Audre, this book tells the story of two girls finding comfort in each other after they experience separate traumas. With lush, lyrical writing and beautiful references to the late bisexual icon Whitney Houston, this book has the potential to soothe your soul.
8. Aristotle and Dante Discover The Waters of The World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
This book is the long-awaited sequel to the 2012 novel Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of The Universe. Whereas the first book featured the titular males characters falling in love, this book features the two of them navigating their romantic relationship in a world that stands against them. Despite this, Ari finds himself making new friends and facing enemies with Dante by his side. When Ari ends up dealing with a sudden loss, he must find the strength to keep living his ideal life.
9. Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
You know how two people end up pretending to date each other for some reason and end up falling in love? This book takes that lovely trope and puts two girls at the center of it: Hani Khan and Ishu Dey. When popular girl Hani accidentally comes out as bisexual, her friends say she can’t be bi because she has only dated guys. As a result, Hani lies and says she has a girlfriend and must now date a girl her friends can’t stand, the academic overachiever Ishu.
10. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
This book features a Black biromantic asexual lead named Alice who, on top of her girlfriend breaking up with her for being asexual, must figure out what she wants to study in college while dealing with a crush on library assistant Takumi and the changes in her friendships with Feenie and Ryan. She must also come to terms with what attraction and romance means for her as a bi-ace person.♦