Story by Lexie Doig
Artwork by Allison Lee
Associate Design Editor
SPHS should choose a summer reading book that highlights the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community. As the summer reading book has traditionally been used to introduce various authors and stories, it is time to represent all students with literature highlighting identities other than cisgender and heterosexual. Last summer I was reading books, Trevor Noah Born of a crimeat Angie Thomas The hate you giveand Traci Chee We are not free have a total of one member of the LGBTQ+ community between them. While this does not mean that these books are inherently flawed for this reason, it does point to the need for the next step towards increased representation of homosexuals in school literature.
Seeing honest and accurate portrayals of queer characters in literature and media can help students feel seen and represented by highlighting and edifying LGBTQ+ experiences. Assigning books that present these stories to the entire student body could increase awareness and acceptance of queer identities on campus.
According to a study by the Trevor Project, approximately 75% of LGBTQ+ youth will experience discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity at some point in their lives. Increasing positive representation of the LGBTQ+ community would help reduce discrimination by addressing the misconceptions and ignorance that underlie homophobia and transphobia. At the very least, the school should consider awarding a book with prominent and nuanced queer characters.
The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is an organization focused on creating better and more assertive educational environments for LGBTQ+ youth. In 2021, GLSEN released a list of books containing various stories with prominent LGBTQ+ characters, many of which are written by community authors. These books are specifically aimed at high school students and would provide SPHS with a starting point to begin introducing queer stories into summer reading.
Simon against the Homo Sapiens agenda by Becky Albertalli, later adapted into the 2018 film Love, Simon, could be an introductory book to more LGBTQ-inclusive summer reading at SPHS. The coming-of-age story follows protagonist Simon Spier, a locked-up gay high school student who is forced out after being blackmailed by a classmate who discovered his flirtatious emails to another locked-up student.
Albertalli’s book balances cute romance with the reality of southern homophobia, but overall it’s an uplifting story about friendship, family, and identity. Simon against the Homo Sapiens agenda is a fun and easy read, and while it may not be the most impressive or groundbreaking example of queer literature, it’s a great start.
Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston also provides a way to bring LGBTQ+ stories to the SPHS campus. McQuiston’s book follows the romance of Alex Claremont-Diaz, the son of a fictional American first female president, and fictional British Prince Harry. To like Simon against the Homo Sapiens agendaMcQuiston’s book is by no means a perfect or life-changing piece of queer literature, and while the book is riddled with cliches and romantic tropes, it’s another example of simple, comedic reading. .
GLSEN’s list of books is not limited to fictional stories. The Stonewall Reader (compiled from the archives of the New York Public Library) is a collection of first-hand accounts, diaries, and articles from before and after the Stonewall uprising, considered a turning point for the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement. Highlighting activists integral to the movement, such as Sylvia Rivera and Ernestine Eckstein, the book provides a detailed account of one of the most significant events in American queer history.
If the above examples do not meet the criteria for the next summer reading book, then GLSEN’s many suggestions should be given careful consideration. Of the hundreds, if not thousands, of positive LGBTQ+ stories, one is sure to be a good candidate for the SPHS Summer Reading Program.
SPHS needs positive LGBTQ+ representation in its literature was last modified: April 25, 2022 by