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The representations of LGBTQ themes and individuals in non-fiction young adult literature
Social Studies Research and Practice (2017)
  • John H. Bickford, III
Purpose – Social justice themes permeate the social studies, history, civics, and current events curricula. The
purpose of this paper is to examine how non-fiction trade books represented lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transsexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals and issues.

Design/methodology/approach – Trade books published after 2000 and intended for middle grades (5-8)
and high school (9-12) students were analyzed.

Findings – Findings included main characters’ demography, sexuality, and various ancillary elements, such
as connection to LGBTQ community, interactions with non-LGBTQ individuals, the challenges and contested
terrain that LGBTQ individuals must traverse, and a range of responses to these challenges. Publication date,
intended audience, and subgenre of non-fiction – specifically, memoir, expository, and historical text – added
nuance to findings. Viewed broadly, the books generally engaged in exceptionalism, a historical
misrepresentation, of one singular character who was a gay or lesbian white American. Diverse sexualities,
races, ethnicities, and contexts were largely absent. Complex resistance structures were frequent and detailed.

Originality/value – This research contributes to previous scholarship exploring LGBTQ-themed fiction for
secondary students and close readings of secondary level non-fiction trade books.
  • Social justice,
  • LGBTQ,
  • Informational texts,
  • Young adult literature,
  • Trade books
Publication Date
September 13, 2017
Citation Information
John H. Bickford. "The representations of LGBTQ themes and individuals in non-fiction young adult literature" Social Studies Research and Practice Vol. 12 Iss. 2 (2017) p. 182 - 198
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Creative Commons license
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons CC_BY-NC-ND International License.