Read the first paragraph below, or click here to read the entire essay: Alysha Mercendetti – The Inclusion of LGBTQ YAL in the Curriculum: Can it Foster Acceptance?
Acceptance, whether it be by friends, family, teachers, or peers, is crucial for any teen. Finding acceptance can be significantly more difficult for a teen going through the coming out process or maybe one that has already done so but is still not feeling completely okay in his or her own skin. Along with the fact that the world is highly a heteronormative one, society holds extremely shortsighted views and lacks knowledge on the subject of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning sexualities, and this ultimately plays a huge role in why LGBTQ teens are either too afraid to come out or do not feel the acceptance they should. Feeling alone, and like they cannot relate to anyone around them, causes some teens to turn to suicide. Suicide rates among adolescents who identify as LGBTQ are rising. In her article, “Suicide in Young Adult Literature,” Paula Berger acknowledges that, “Teenage suicide has reached epidemic proportions in the United States and is therefore an important issue in contemporary society” (14). She goes on to say that, “…for those teenagers that have suicidal thoughts, these novels can show them that they are neither unique nor alone in their feelings of despair and hopelessness, but others have shared these same feelings and have found constructive ways to handle them” (14-15). Berger expands on how young adult novels on suicide are helpful to readers who have suicidal thoughts. The same concept applies to LGBTQ teens. If they are able to relate to characters in the novels that they read in the classroom, LGBTQ teens will realized that they are not the only ones going through these kinds of experiences, and this is a potential aid in ultimately terminating the issue of suicide among young adults. In his article, “Suicide Risk and Sexual Orientation: A Critical Review,” Martin Plöderl proved through individual studies, reviews, and meta-analyses that “sexual minority individuals are at greater risk for suicides and suicide attempts, compared to their heterosexual counterparts”(724). Thus integrating and mainstreaming LGBTQ Young Adult Literature into the classroom setting is beneficial and should be part of the curriculum. It not only helps LGBTQ identifying teens to feel acceptance in their daily lives, but also fosters learning and understanding for heterosexual teens, parents, and teachers.