Diversify YA Life: LGBTQ Fiction and Non-Fiction

If your library is anything like mine, your LGBTQ displays and books are among the most popular in your collection.  LGBTQ fiction and non-fiction is what we like to call window and mirror books.  When teens see themselves in the book, it’s a mirror.  When teens see other people in the book, it’s a window.  Either way, LGBTQ books serve many purposes.  Bullied teens can find inspiration and the will to live in these books.  LGBTQ books can be cathartic to the teen who feels alone.  Teens with LGBTQ friends or family members seek out these books to understand and/or support their loved ones.

Diversify YA Life LGBTQ

Below is a list of books that feature LGBTQ teens from all genres including non-fiction, humor, paranormal, romance, and graphic novels.


Kate Hill shares her journey of undergoing gender reassignment surgery.

  • Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out (2015 Stonewall Book Award Honoree) by Susan Kuklin

Interspersed with pictures, six transgender or gender neutral teens share their personal acknowledgements.

  • Branded by the Pink Triangle (2014 Stonewall Book Award Honoree) by Ken Setterington

Through personal accounts and history, Branded reveals human cruelty and stories of bravery of homosexuals in Nazi Germany.

  • Some Assembly Required: The Not so Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews

Arin Andrews shares his journey of gender reassignment surgery in high school.

  • Rapture Practice: A True Story about Growing up Gay in an Evangelical Family by Aaron Hartzler

Waiting for the rapture, Aaron decides to live life but his family may not be ready for it.

  • The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to the Younger Selves Edited by Sarah Moon

Sixty-three award winning authors write stories to their teen selves about perseverance, love, and understanding.


Simon isn’t quite out of the closet and neither is Blue, his anonymous email friend. When    Martin accidentally sees Simon’s emails, Simon finds himself on the other side of blackmail and is forced to hook up Martin and his friend Abby.  Putting Makeup on a Fat Boy (2012 Stonewall Book Award Winner) by Bil Wright

What happens when a plane crashes with twelve teen beauty queens?  Will get along? Will they survive? Will they learn the opening dance number in time?

Dean is fourteen, in love with his best friend, and finds himself in the middle of a school tragedy.


Aaron has a girlfriend who loves him but his friends aren’t always supportive. His mother loves him unconditionally but his father recently committed suicide. His older brother ignores him but he’s found a new best friend. His friend, Kyle, feels responsible for the death of his twin brother but the Leteo Institute erased Kyle’s memories. Aaron is more happy than not. This title also features another element of diversity: the POV Protagonist is Puerto Rican. 

Every Day A wakes up in a different body-sometimes it’s a girl and sometimes it’s a boy.  One time, he falls in love.

Evie is a spunky clairvoyant who is forced to live with her uncle in New York City to escape a misdeed.  When a serial killer begins to terrorize New York, Evie uses her skills to solve the murders.

A dystopian novel about genderqueer Kivali who is sent to a government sanctioned camp that develops teens into hard-working heterosexuals.

Aidan is living in a fog until his best friend moves back in town.  Suddenly, family secrets slowly begin to reveal themselves.


As a lesbian, London feels alone in her high school until she discovers the most popular boy in school is gay.  Their bond sparks rumors which results in the nickname of Dirty London.

  • Because of Her by K.E. Payne

Tabby has had to leave her girlfriend to move to London.  She’s forced to enroll into a “lady-making” school for girls.  Her relationship with her parents is on the rocks and her girlfriend has dropped a bombshell during her recent visit but then Tabby meets Eden and her world changes because of her.

Lucas and Tessa are best friends and when Lucas decides to ask her to prom, he’s surprised to learn that she’s a lesbian and will go to prom with her crush.  Will Lucas stand up for Tessa’s right to go to prom or will he walk away?

Alek’s parents spring news that he’s to attend summer school to improve his grades.  This is the worst news ever until he meets Ethan, a cool guy who want to be Alek’s friend and maybe more.  Alek, who’s never had a boyfriend or girlfriend, has to decide where his heart lies. This title also features another element of diversity: one of the protagonists is Armenian-American.

Not only is Leila different from her classmates because she’s Persian, she’s also a lesbian.  She’s almost made it through high school without a crush until Saskia moves to town.  While dealing with Saskia’s mixed signals, Leila discovers that many of her classmates have secrets of their own.  This title also features another element of diversity: the protagonist is Persian-American. 

Rather than dealing with bullies, Del decides to drop out of high school to save her dad’s cafe-The Flywheel.  Along with her prison bound best friend Charlie and her crush, a flamenco dancer, can Del’s life have a happy ending?

Mara lives in a conservative town with church-going, abusive, alcoholic parents.  When her father puts her best friend/brother Iggy in the hospital, Mara turns to a new girl Xylia for friendship.  When Xylia’s secrets, which involve Mara, are close to being revealed, Mara fears the consequences.

Andrew survived a near fatal accident but his family didn’t and now he lives and works in the hospital avoiding death.  Convinced that death is after him and Drew, a new patient, Andrew will stop at nothing to save themselves.

Farrin is the daughter of important people in Iran where homosexuality is punishable by death. With her mother’s rebel activities and Farrin’s romance with Sadira, will she and her family be rescued or will she face death?This title also features another element of diversity: the protagonist is Iranian.

Noah and Jude are twins and aspiring artists.  Noah is in love with the boy next door and Jude is “that girl.”   Due to a family tragedy and life changing secrets, Noah and Jude find themselves estranged and only honesty can save this small family.

Naomi is dreading her summer with her mother in The Hamptons until she meets some very interesting teens including the mysterious Jacinta.

Kristin’s life is perfect.  She’s homecoming queen an athlete and in love with her boyfriend.  When her first sexual encounter reveals she’s intersex, she must cope with her new self and the possibility of being exposed.

In 1959 segregated Virginia, Sarah is the first Black student at her newly integrated high school and Linda is the daughter of a proponent for the segregated south.  During a school project, Sarah and Linda discover their feelings are deeper than friends.  This title also features another element of diversity: one of the protagonists is African-American. 

Graphic Novels

When Callie becomes a set designer for her middle school play, Moon Over Mississippi, drama happens on and off stage.

Shuichi and Yoshiko have several things in common, the fifth grade, happy homes, and living in the wrong bodies.

Meet Riverdale’s new resident, Kevin.  Find out how me meets Archie, Jughead, and the gang and how he deals with bullying and discovering who he is.

Nimona is a shapeshifter who wants to team up and wreak havoc with super villain Ballister Blackheart.  During their missions of revenge on Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and the Institution, Ballister learns that Nimona is wreckless and mysterious.


“Since most of the world is straight, they can’t relate to issues surrounding a teen who is struggling with their sexuality.  Because of this, LGBTQ fiction is an education for the straight world.” – Katie

“There are books where a character is presumed to be gay and then there are books like More Happy Than Not where the main character is out.  For teens who are struggling, and I know a girl who is, books like More Happy Than Not show her that it’s okay to be gay.” – Nathalie

Katie and Nathalie are the reason by We Need Diverse Books.

— Dawn Abron, currently reading The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

2 thoughts on “Diversify YA Life: LGBTQ Fiction and Non-Fiction”

  1. Thank you for this post! As both the librarian and the GSA sponsor at my high school, I’ll find it very useful!

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