Over the last month, we at AfterEllen have documented and followed the sad story of the Cape Henlopen School Board in Delaware and its obsession with The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Elaine Atwell most recently described the twisted ending to the story, where the board decided to nix the entire reading list that Cam Post had been included on, and where it was revealed that the reason behind the whole brouhaha actually was because of fear of lesbians.
In reaction, there are a few things you can do. If you happen to know any teenagers in Delaware, you can encourage them to enter the essay contest about Cam Post, sponsored by the National Coalition Against Censorship and other free speech groups. Winners get cash money! Essays are due September 1st, and the winners will be announced during Banned Book Week, September 21st through the 27th.
You can also read more books. Reading more books is always the solution when people tell you that you shouldn’t. Since this school district is really determined to not have its teens read about lesbians, well, I only felt it my duty to give the teens of the world even more choices. I present to you now a list of every YA book in history that contains lesbians.
…With some caveats, of course. Any list that purports to contain “every” something “in history,” as I just did, can never actually fulfill its promise 100%. I chose to only include books that were published by mainstream publishers (along with a few reputable smaller presses, like McSweeney’s and Arsenal Pulp). I made this decision based on the fact that I want these to be books that teenagers can, ideally, find relatively easily at their local public or school library. For the purposes of this list, I’m also counting only lesbian or bisexual characters, and including books that are explicitly published and marketed as YA. Links are included for books we’ve reviewed on AfterEllen in the past. Any quotes are taken from the books’ official blurbs.
Here are your lesbian literary teens, in chronological order.
● Happy Endings Are All Alike, Sandra Scoppettone (1978)
“Part mystery thriller, part love story,” in-love teens Peggy and Jaret are caught in a hate crime plot. Recently brought back into print by Lizzie Skurnick Books.
● Hey, Dollface, Deborah Hautzig (1978)
Val and Chloe become close friends at prep school, and soon begin to wonder if they’re more than that.
● Annie on My Mind, Nancy Garden (1982)
After meeting at the Met, Nancy and Liza explore New York City together and their relationship grows. But they have to deal with the fallout when their romance is discovered.
● Am I Blue? Coming Out From the Silence, edited by Marion Dane Bauer (1994)
The first collection of short stories by prominent YA authors specifically for and about queer kids. Winner of a Stonewall and Lambda Award.
● Good Moon Rising, Nancy Garden (1996)
Kerry and Janna fall in love while rehearsing a school play, and fight back against the homophobia they face.
● Dare Truth or Promise, Paula Boock (1997)
When confident Louie and troubled Willa meet during their senior year of high school, all of their ideas about their futures and who they are change. Winner of the New Zealand Post’s Children’s Books of the Year.
● Kissing the Witch, Emma Donoghue (1997)
Thirteen re-told fairy tales are woven together in a magically queer way.
● The Necessary Hunger, Nina Revoyr (1997)
Nancy and Raina are two basketball stars whose lives will soon be colliding in more ways than one, “set against a backdrop of racial tension between the Asian American and African American communities of Los Angeles.”
● The House You Pass On the Way, Jacqueline Woodson (1997)
Loner Staggerlee finally finds a friend when her cousin Trout comes to visit. But is Trout who Staggerlee thinks she is?
● Girl Walking Backwards, Bett Williams (1998)
Skye falls in love with the “gothic punk” Jessica, but then discovers her boyfriend having sex with Jessica at a rave. Skye clearly has a lot to figure out.
● The Year They Burned the Books, Nancy Garden (1999)
Jamie Crawford has not only written an op-ed in her school newspaper about making condoms available to high schoolers, she’s also coming out as a lesbian. Oh, Jamie, Jamie, Jamie.