Friday, April 6, 2018

CCBC 2017 Statistics on LGBTQ+ Literature for Children & Teens

Note: The numbers in this post were updated on July 5, 2018.

In 2017 we expanded our CCBC diversity statistics to include books with LGBTQ+ content and/or characters, and the results have been both fascinating and eye-opening.

Of the approximately 3,700 books we received at the CCBC in 2017, we counted:

  • 136 (3.68%) with significant LGBTQ+ content.
    • Of these, 56 (41.18%) were written by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+. 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 (136) 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:
  • 63 books (46.32%) feature an LGBTQ+ primary character
  • 36 books (26.47%) include an LGBTQ+ secondary character without an LGBTQ+ primary character
  • 25 books (18.38%) include an LGBTQ+ family
  • 9 books (6.62%) are nonfiction (not including graphic novels)
  • 3 books (2.21%) are anthologies with significant LGBTQ+ content
  • 2 books (1.47%) are LGBTQ+ metaphors

The two books we consider "metaphor" books are Bunnybear, written by Andrea J. Loney and illustrated by Carmen Salda├▒a, and Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima. Both books can easily be interpreted as metaphors for coming out to one's self and/or others and finding community.

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 63 books featuring an LGBTQ+ primary character, we counted:
  • 16 (25.4%) lesbian
  • 14 (22.22%) gay
  • 16 (25.4%) bisexual
  • 4 (6.35%) transgender
  • 5 (7.94%) questioning
  • 7 (11.11%) non-binary
  • 1 (1.59%) asexual
Little Pig has two grandpas.

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 136 books with LGBTQ+ content or characters:
  • 13 (9.56%) are picture books
  • 18 (13.24%) are nonfiction, including graphic novels
  • 104 (76.47%) 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.

Last updated 6/11/2018

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