Yes, There’s A Gay Character In My Middle Grade Book
Inclusion in kids’ books is vital
Already I have told a lie. There’s actually a few LGBTQ characters in my middle grade fantasy series.
We can have deadly battles, dangerous wand duels, blood-thirsty villains, dark creatures and murderous kings in our children’s books, but we can’t have LGBTQ characters? Please.
We teach our children that they can be anything they want to be. We teach our children that they must be kind to everyone and befriend the outcasts. Our books teach children to fight evil and stay true to who they are. Why on Earth would we want to contradict all of these lessons by hiding anything connected to the LGBTQ community from our children and not letting them learn or read about it? Reading books with LGBTQ characters can install healthy lessons about acceptance and diversity in our children. One of the most important lessons your children will take from reading a book with LGBTQ characters in it is this:
Love isn’t wrong. What matters is who you are and being kind. Kindness matters. Be kind to everyone, always.
Imagine what it would mean to a child with two fathers or two mothers to read about a character just like their parents? Imagine what it would mean to a child who is unsure of or uncomfortable with who they are to read about someone just like them? Inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters is vital. The mental health, happiness and needs of the next generation are far more important than your opinions.
In my novel, my protagonist has two mothers. I have always imagined her like this, a brave woman who loves her mothers very much. Her parents are important to the story. Why would I sensor them? Why would I change the sex of one of the characters just to please a homophobic minority? I wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing. Because it is OK for LGBTQ+ characters to be in middle grade books.
I shouldn’t have to change my characters. This is how I imagine them, therefore I will install the lesson I want to teach children — to be comfortable in their own skin and be themselves. I will let all my characters be who they truly are. I will never sensor them.
You often know from a young age whether you’re straight or not. Children are not stupid, and that’s the problem with a lot of adults who try to protect their children. It’s patronizing. Kids are a lot smarter than you think. You should be teaching them that love is love and love is wonderful — not that love is only OK if it is with someone of the opposite sex. That’s not OK. Often, adults who think they’re protecting children are actually causing more harm. Let your child read books with LGBTQ+ characters in them, please. It’s the right thing to do.
And if you’re writing a book, please be more inclusive. It will mean a lot to your readers.
Another reason that I think everyone should aspire to have LGBTQ+ characters in their books is because representation is important. I want everyone to feel safe and happy when reading my books. I want everyone to feel included and be able to relate to my characters and what they’re going through. If I want children to take the lesson away that it’s OK to be themselves and to be kind to others, then I can’t make all my characters the same. They can’t all be white, straight, generic people who follow the norm. That’s boring and unfair and untrue to real life. The world is filled with diversity and that’s what makes it so wonderful. It’s not my fault or my problem if a select few can’t see that. Homophobia is another driving force for me to include LGBTQ+ characters in my book. I have a chance to educate here — I should grab it with both hands. I also have a chance to possibly make a child who is struggling with their identity and feelings to feel less alone.
It’s OK to be gay. It’s OK to be bi, or pansexual, or asexual — it’s OK to be you and to love who you want to love. I personally think its wrong if you are teaching kids otherwise. I will always write literature that makes children feel proud of who they are, want to stand out from the crowd, to be brave and kind and to always do the right thing. I will always write books that aim to make children feel less alone. I will always write books that are a fun and safe escape for children. I will never exclude anyone in my stories. Everyone is included. Everyone matters.