Teenage years are some of the most confusing in life, as young adults begin to form their identities and value system. For LGBTQ youth, high school experiences can be deeply traumatic without access to the support and resources necessary to feel represented and accepted. According to The Trevor Project, the rate of suicide attempts is 4 times greater for LGB youth and 2 times greater for questioning youth than that of straight youth. Additionally, every instance of physical or verbal harassment of LGBTQ youth increased the risk of self-harm by 2.5 times. While LGBTQ communities are beginning to be represented in some history classes, high school libraries rarely offer LGBTQ literature. This lack of access to books that represent the LGBTQ community creates an additional layer of isolation for teenagers that are struggling to feel accepted. This is especially apparent in California, which is lauded as a progressive leader for LGBTQ equality.
As a progressive leader in our country, California has a responsibility to guarantee access to LGBTQ literature in all of its public high schools. We’ll first focus on asking the education superintendents of California’s 3 biggest counties (Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange County) to provide LGBTQ literature in all of the libraries in their jurisdiction. The cost of such a policy would be minimal, but the impact for LGBTQ teenagers would be tremendous. Once California’s large school districts begin taking action, we’ll channel the momentum by pushing for statewide legislation that guarantees access to LGBTQ literature in all high schools. The power of having access to representative stories cannot be understated in creating safe, inclusive space for LGBTQ teenagers. Let’s use our collective voices to urge California to lead the way!