If you ask any LGBTQ+ adult today whether they believe their childhood consisted of stories that fairly represented them, the answer would most likely be a resounding NO.
Today’s children’s literature has made tangible progress in promoting diversity through numerous LGBTQ+ characters, themes, and storylines. However, the struggle to find ample representation continues, largely owing to the backlash that many believe LGBTQ+ content to be “inappropriate content”.
The reality is that inclusive children’s books play an incredibly powerful role in cultivating an accepting and progressive mindset for our youth.
When reflecting on my own childhood, I spent countless hours questioning myself for being different. I had very little frame of reference to comfort my feelings or developing identity. Storytelling, drawing, and the arts were my escape from angst and feelings of shame, yet these solaces provided no answers to the constant questions running through my mind.
There were no books or resources available for questioning youth, and no early introductions to the prospect of coming out. If there had been, I strongly believe that not only would I be able to better identity my feelings, but I would be surrounded by a community that would be more inviting to them.
Let Me Out was created as a resource for those struggling to come out. It is a resource I wish I had access to growing up. The book pushes the narrative that many of us do struggle with who we are and it is worth recognizing and celebrating our truths and supporting each other as allies.
Let Me Out understands that coming out can be difficult and terrifying, but it was also important for me that the book celebrated the feeling of relief and freedom that comes with embracing our truth, especially after we cast aside the heavy feelings of self-doubt and fear.
Currently, there are few books available for our youth that address coming out, so we must continue pushing for content that nurtures both the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.
Here are some reasons why we need to continue the push for LGBTQ+ stories in our homes, classrooms, and libraries:
Those struggling with their identity can feel shame looking at LGBTQ+ books when they are treated as specialty items or are limited in selection. By increasing the representation of LGBTQ+ content, you are helping readers acknowledge the normalcy of these stories and resources.
LGBTQ+ literature provides an excellent framework for introducing themes about tolerance, acceptance, and celebration of our differences.
Allowing children to see similar family situations to their own in stories can comfort them greatly. Often faced with a heteronormative family situation in media and literature, children of LGBTQ+ families can be left feeling ostracized. Providing them with stories that represent their family structure is a great tool to increase their pride and self-confidence.
Most children don’t know about LGBTQ+ families until they meet a member or family of the community. Introducing characters and stories with LGBTQ+ storylines is a great way to introduce new norms to youths and encourage them to ask the right questions.
Bullies often act in response to not understanding their surroundings or being placed in new situations. Introducing a well rounded series of characters, stories, and situation in children’s literature is a fantastic way to cultivate a richer mindset.
Let Me Out: a pop-out about coming out was created as a resource and tool for the LGBTQ+ and allies of the community. It is currently available for preorder here.