Of the approximately 3,700 books we received at the CCBC in 2017, we counted:
- 134 (3.62%) with significant LGBTQ+ content.
- Of these, 21 (15.67%) were #OwnVoices (written by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+). However, this does not necessarily mean that the author's identity aligns with that of the character, e.g. a cisgender bisexual woman could create a transgender lesbian character.
This number (134) includes books with LGBTQ+ primary or significant secondary characters, LGBTQ+ families, nonfiction about LGBTQ+ people or topics, and what we've been calling "LGBTQ+ metaphor" books (more on that in a moment). Here's the breakdown:
- 61 books (45.52%) feature an LGBTQ+ primary character
- 36 books (26.87%) include an LGBTQ+ secondary character without an LGBTQ+ primary character
- 25 books (18.66%) include an LGBTQ+ family
- 9 books (5.22%) are nonfiction (not including graphic novels)
- 3 books (2.24%) are anthologies with significant LGBTQ+ content
- 2 books (1.5%) are LGBTQ+ metaphors
We also took a closer look at the identities of primary characters. We used widely recognized identities in an effort to be consistent in our counting, as terminology within the LGBTQ+ community evolves and changes regularly. We counted queer (but not explicitly bisexual) cisgender women as lesbians, and queer (but not bi) cisgender men as gay. We had a category for transgender characters, and one for the non-binary umbrella (genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, etc.). In a separate category, we counted books in which a character questions their sexual orientation or gender identity.
That being said, of the 61 books featuring an LGBTQ+ primary character, we counted:
- 16 (26.23%) lesbian
- 14 (22.95%) gay
- 15 (24.59%) bisexual
- 2 (3.28%) transgender
- 5 (8.2%) questioning
- 8 (13.11%) non-binary
- 1 (1.64%) asexual
Finally, our total count includes fiction, nonfiction, and picture books. There are very few picture books with LGBTQ+ characters or content. Of those we received, most were about families in general or had secondary or tertiary LGBTQ+ parents. Picture books with gender-expansive characters most often feature a child who was assigned male at birth and likes to wear skirts, dresses, or other clothing traditionally considered to be "feminine." Within the fiction category, few are middle grade titles; the majority are YA.
Of the 134 books with LGBTQ+ content or characters:
- 13 (9.77%) are picture books
- 17 (12.78%) are nonfiction, including graphic novels
- 104 (77.61%) are fiction
Although it is a slow improvement, there are books being published that better represent the vast diversity of identities and experiences within the LGBTQ+ community. In the months and years ahead, we hope to see even more, especially books with LGBTQ+ characters of color and gender-expansive characters, as well as more #OwnVoices stories.