Gay teen fiction in libraries
Where to start when a young adult member requests gay YA fiction? Not that difficult. We already had copies of the series "Rainbow boys" which young people had discovered already. A quick Google search provided excellent lists: Great Gay Teen Books on the Alex Sanchez site; a very informative article in (where else?) Wikipedia; and for a foundation collection, Amazon.com's Top 5 Gay Teen-Life Novels. We actually had a few of the titles already, and put them into our regular YA collection in the main library where they have enjoyed the popularity expected of any new YA novel. You have to look pretty hard to note that the book is a "teen gay novel" - take for example, "Geography Club" - absolutely nowhere on the cover or blurb are the words "gay" or similar used. But the blurb outlines the story subtly. Does it matter if a teenage reader is somehow "ambushed" into reading a gay novel because it isn't emblazened on the cover? The novels are sensitive, well written, not at all sexual, and are only going to offend those who have perhaps a religious objection. The themes of love, fitting in, coming of age and understanding will be valid for straight and gay readers alike. Are we "condoning" a particular lifestyle by providing these books to young people? Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is no longer legal, so regardless of our personal opinion, there is really no good reason to take this stance. It is again up to parents to guide their offspring's reading.
BTW the specific request actually came from the Youth Library via a support group supported by the Youth Worker which demonstrates again the utility of our unique partnership between Youth Services and Library Services.