It was heartbreaking to read this article posted yesterday on Advocate.com. Rafael Morelos, a 14-year-old Washington middle school student, committed suicide last week after being the victim of repeated anti-gay bullying. As big as the It Gets Better movement has grown, I’d expect it to have infiltrated more homes and schools. Maybe that’s a problem with our education system not giving students equal access to information about homosexuality. Not once in middle or high school did any teacher of mine ever speak about sexual identity or the sexual discrimination. It’s deeply saddening to see news reports like this in the Advocate. It tells me that parents and schools are still shut off from teaching basic human rights.
When I started inGroup Press, one of my goals was to publish fiction that normalizes LGBT people. I especially wanted more children’s and young adult books with LGBT presence. The popular genre titles like Harry Potter and Twilight are lacking in that department. That’s why I’m excited that inGroup Press is releasing two YA books in the first half of this year. One of them, Bloodlines by Marcus James, deals directly with gay bullying and its tragic outcomes. It’s the kind of book that can empower teenage gay kids who get bullied at school.
As I return to the query pile, I hope I find more children’s and young adult books by emerging authors who want to teenage readers that being gay is normal. If we can expose America’s children to books that positively portray LGBT people, we can change an entire generation’s view of homosexuality.