What school can be like for LGBTQ teens

GLSENThis post originally appeared on my blog on October 2, 2013. The 2013 survey results are supposed to come out at some point this fall. Reposting this entry because it’s so important to know what’s really going on in schools. 



National School Climate Survey results about LGBTQ students’ experiences in high school

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, released itsNational School Climate Survey, which documents the experiences of LGBT students from across the country.  If these numbers shock you, you clearly haven’t spent much time talking to gay students or hanging out in a high school.  It’s still ugly out there.

Findings of the 2011 National School Climate Survey include:

Biased Remarks at School

• 84.9% of students heard “gay” used in a negative way (e.g., “that’s so gay”) frequently or often at school, and 91.4% reported that they felt distressed because of this language.

• 71.3% heard other homophobic remarks (e.g., “dyke” or “faggot”) frequently or often.

• 61.4% heard negative remarks about gender expression (not acting “masculine enough” or “feminine enough”) frequently or often.

• 56.9% of students reported hearing homophobic remarks from their teachers or other school staff, and 56.9% of students reported hearing negative remarks about gender expression from teachers or other school staff.

Safety and Victimization at School

• 63.5% felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation, and 43.9% because of their gender expression.

• 81.9% were verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened) in the past year because of their sexual orientation, and 63.9% because of their gender expression.

• 38.3% were physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) in the past year because of their sexual orientation, and 27.1% because of their gender expression.

• 18.3% were physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked, injured with a weapon) in the past year because of their sexual orientation, and 12.4% because of their gender expression.

• 55.2% of LGBT students experienced electronic harassment in the past year (via text messages or postings on Facebook), often known as cyberbullying.

The high incidence of harassment and assault is exacerbated by school staff who rarely, if ever, intervene on behalf of LGBT students.

• 60.4% of students who were harassed or assaulted in school did not report the incident to school staff, most often believing little to no action would be taken or the situation could become worse if reported.

• 36.7% of the students who did report an incident said that school staff did nothing in response.

The report goes on to discuss:

*absenteeism (“Many LGBT students avoid classes or miss entire days of school rather than face a hostile school climate. An unsafe school environment denies these students their right to an education.”)

*academic achievement (“School safety affects student success. Experiencing victimization in school hinders LGBT students’ academic success and educational aspirations.”)

*psychological well-being (“Experiences of harassment and assault in school are related to poorer psychological well-being for LGBT students.”).

The report also looks at solutions, including GSA groups, inclusive curriculum, supportive educations, bullying policies, and more.

The report is long (160 pages), but filled with statistics, charts, and graphs that drive home the point that LGBTQ students face a lot of opposition at school and frequently don’t feel safe or supported.  Being knowledgeable of their potential struggles and understanding where they (and you!) can go to find useful resources (books, websites, helplines, etc) is a major step in the right direction.

LGBTQ resources:

The Trevor Project—A 24-hour toll free confidential hotline for gay and questioning youth.   844-4-U-TREVOR

The It Gets Better Project—Suicide prevention video project and website to give hope to LGBTQ teens that high school and its bullies will not last forever, that it DOES get better.

GLSEN—Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network

HRC—Human Rights Campaign


GSA Network

Book review: The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy


About the book: 
Title: The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher

Author: Dana Alison Levy

Age level: Middle grade

Genre: Realistic

Subjects: Schools, families, LGBTQ, adoption, siblings

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Publication date: 7/22/2014

Format read in: Hardcover

Source of book: my friendly neighborhood library

Pages: 272

Series: Yes! Sequel coming spring 2016

Cover: I love it. So much going on! Who are all these kids and creatures? Also, I love the style of the artwork.

Why review this book?: I am a sucker for a good family story.


Summary (via Goodreads):

Meet the Fletchers. Their year will be filled with new schools, old friends, a grouchy neighbor, hungry skunks, leaking ice rinks, school plays, wet cats, and scary tales told in the dark!

There’s Sam, age twelve, who’s mostly interested in soccer, food, and his phone; Jax, age ten, who’s psyched for fourth grade and thinks the new neighbor stinks, and not just because of the skunk; Eli, age ten (but younger than Jax), who’s thrilled to be starting this year at the Pinnacle School, where everyone’s the smart kid; and Frog (not his real name), age six, who wants everyone in kindergarten to save a seat for his invisible cheetah. Also Dad and Papa.

WARNING: This book contains cat barf, turtle pee, and some really annoying homework assignments.


The details:

Characters: Mr. Nelson, the crotchety neighbor, can’t stand the Fletchers. They’re always kicking balls into his yard or being too loud. Me? I’d LOVE to live next to the family Fletcher. One of the common problems with a large cast of characters, particularly in a family, is that often they blend together. You don’t need to worry about that here. Sam, Jax, Eli, and Frog are distinctive and memorable characters. Their interests are wide-ranging, helping them stand out even further. The best thing about the characters is the diversity. The boys are white, African-American, and Indian. They are Jewish, Christian, and Hindu. They celebrate a variety of religious holidays. The boys have two dads and it is never once a “thing,” as in there isn’t any weirdness or judging going on. The dads are great, too–supportive but with different strengths, and they play strong roles in the book (not just fading into the background). I pretty much wanted to be able to jump into the pages of this book and find myself at the Fletchers’ busy house.


Writing: Levy has an ear for dialogue and clever banter. There is a lot going on in this story (with so many main characters and a large, well-developed cast of secondary characters, too), but Levy easily juggles all of the pieces of the story, keeping things moving at a good pace without ever overwhelming the plot. This is an easy one to read in one sitting because it chugs along so nicely.


Plot: So much happens! The book never lags, and how could it? Each of the boys always have something going on, whether that’s an activity (like soccer, play practice, a school report, etc), or an issue with a friend (old friends making fun of new interests, new friends coming into their lives, the family thinking a new friend is imaginary, etc). The plot could probably be summed up as “here is a family doing all the things a family of 6 would do.” And all of their “things” are so interesting. I want to go to their Halloween party, or visit Frog’s kindergarten open house, or sit at the table with all of them and Mr. Nelson. A packed plot, but in the best way.


Ending: The major pieces of the story tie up nicely (and believably). I’m left wanting to read more.


Liked: The diversity, the love and support the family shows, the standout characters, the problems that felt real and meaningful (without being too big or horrible).
Disliked: That the book ended. Is that an acceptable answer?




In summary: 

Verdict: I’ll be rereading this one out loud to my son. This is an absolute must for anyone who enjoys family stories (think The Penderwicks). The large cast of characters ensures that there will be something or someone that will draw in a reader. Just a thoroughly enjoyable look at one family’s busy and happy life.



Author’s website

Author’s Twitter

Weekly round-up of book-related links

*This week at Teen Librarian Toolbox, I did a roundup of some books I’ve reviewed here. Check out what I thought about the latest books by Carrie Mesrobian, A.S. King, Stephanie Kuehn, Adam Selzer, Nina LaCour, and Simmone Howell.

*At Wrapped up in Books, “If You Like Ellen Hopkins.” Great suggestions of what to read if you’re a fan of Hopkins.

*At Diversity in YA, an interview with Sarah Farizan.

*At Gay YA, “Are Coming Out Stories Still Relevant in 2014?” by Amy Dunne.

*At Stacked, “The Death Business in YA Fiction: A (Short) Reading List.” 

*At The Hub, “5 YA Books to Read During Learning Disabilities Awareness Month.” 

*At Publishers Weekly, “Writing Native Lives in YA: A NYPL Panel Discussion.” 

*At the Lee & Low blog, “Thirteen Scary YA Books: Diverse Edition.” 

*At Forever Young Adult, “A.S. King’s History of Badassery.”  Also at Book Riot, “A.S. King’s Story of the Future: An Interview about Feminism, Books, and Hope.” 

This week at Teen Librarian Toolbox



How’s this for a loop of blogging links: at Teen Librarian Toolbox this week, I’ve got a post with snippets of some of the books I’ve reviewed in the past few weeks here at Cite Something. So you can leave this blog, check out the TLT post, and then follow the links to read more of the reviews back at this blog. Got that? And….go!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Prey by Tom Isbell



Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.


Maybe it’s because the middle of October starts to feel pretty wintery around here in Minnesota, but lately I’ve been adding a bunch of titles to my list that don’t come out until winter. One book that I’m really looking forward to reading is Tom Isbell’s The Prey.


Summary from bn.com:

The Maze Runner meets The Hunger Games in this heart-pounding trilogy. Orphaned teens, Prey_EpicReadssoon to be hunted for sport, must flee their resettlement camps in their fight for survival and a better life. For in the Republic of the True America, it’s always hunting season. Riveting action, intense romance, and gripping emotion make this fast-paced adventure a standout debut.

After a radiation blast burned most of the Earth to a crisp, the new government established settlement camps for the survivors. At one such camp, the sixteen-year-old “LTs” are eager to graduate as part of the Rite. Until they learn the dark truth: “LTs” doesn’t stand for lieutenant but for Less Thans, feared by society and raised to be hunted for sport. They escape and join forces with the Sisters, twin girls who’ve suffered their own haunting fate. Together they seek the fabled New Territory, with sadistic hunters hot on their trail. Secrets are revealed, allegiances are made, and lives are at stake. As unlikely Book and fearless Hope lead their quest for freedom, these teens must find the best in themselves to fight the worst in their enemies.


Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 1/20/2015


Why I’m excited: When it was announced  that Isbell had landed a seven-figure book deal at HarperCollins  for his young adult fantasy trilogy, I did a double take. Isbell is a professor at UMD, where I went to undergrad. Not a theater-type, I never had him, but my boyBFF Seth had done some screenwriting classes with him. Pretty cool. I can’t wait to check out his new series. It’s loaded onto my Kindle already, thanks to Edelweiss, but I just need to find the time to read it!

Top Ten Tuesday: Places books have made me want to visit

toptentuesdayIt’s time for Top Ten Tuesday! Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. 

This week: Top Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit (fictional and real).


1. I can’t start a list like this without picking Deep Valley, Minnesota, home of Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy, Tacy, and Tib as the first place books made me want to visit. If you know me, you might be thinking, wait, didn’t you grow up in Mankato, the actual Deep Valley? I did (moving 10 miles away to St. Peter when I was an older child). But here’s the thing: these books were my favorite ever as a kid. I still reread them all the time. I wrote about them in graduate school. I love them. Every few years, I drive around the area the books actually took place. When I was younger I could never get over that Deep Valley was Mankato. Fun fact: my grandpa lived in the house that is fictionally Betsy’s house and was Lovelace’s childhood home in real life.


2. Hogwarts. Diagon Alley. The Burrow. Hogsmeade.  Do I even need to elaborate? I want to go to there.


3. How about an actual place from a book that I’ve visited? Well, it’s a place from a movie, but it’s believed that Jane Austen based Pride and Prejudice‘s Pemberley on Chatsworth anyway. After I graduated college, I spent the summer (2000) traveling around England (and a bit of Sweden), mostly with the family for whom I babysat (who were living abroad that year). One of our stops was Chatsworth. Follow the link and look at some of it. It’s stunning. Chatsworth was used in 2005 in the movie version of Pride and Prejudice.


4. Given that I live with two complete Tolkien fanboys, it’s not too far fetched to think that at some point in our futures, we may take a family pilgrimage to the Shire. You can visit the movie set near Matamata in the North Island of New Zealand.


5. Stoneybrook, Connecticut, home of the gang from Ann M. Martin’s The Baby-sitters Club. I spent SOOOO much time lost in that fictional world as a little kid. And when I say “little kid,” I mean “little and probably a bit too big of a kid for still reading that series.” Like, it’s entirely possible that I still read those books into junior high (even though they took about 20 minutes and I would then set them down and pick up a Stephen King book or something). It’s possible my bestie Christina and I called each other Mary Anne and Mallory. It’s possible we maybe played the BSC board game at some point near the end of high school. It’s also possible that she wrote me a letter on BSC stationery when she was in law school and I was in grad school.


6. While I’m talking childhood favorites, could I please go to Klickitat Street in Portland and actually be dropped into Beverly Cleary‘s world of Ramona and friends?


7. Sarah Dessen’s Lakeview/Colby. So many excellently interesting characters from all those great books would be waiting. Aaaaand now I want to go reread all of her books.

8. You know where I always liked visiting when we lived in Massachusetts? Orchard House, home of Louisa May Alcott. We probably visited it at least 6 times. We’re big fans here of both Louisa and her exceedingly interesting father, Amos Bronson Alcott.


9. Another series I was obsessed with as a nerdy little kid was L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. I wouldn’t mind checking out Green Gables. Do I get a discount for having red hair and almost constantly wanting to smash a chalkboard over someone’s head?


10. It’s the actual books here that make me want to visit the Central Library in Kansas City, MissouriHow gorgeous is this place?!


How about you? Where have books made you visit or want to visit? Find me on Twitter and share with me!

LGBTQ review round-up

LGBT HIstoryAs it’s LGBT History Month, I thought I’d do a round-up of some of the books I’ve reviewed that fall under the LGBTQ umbrella. (image from LGBT History Month)


Head on over to Teen Librarian Toolbox, too, for reviews of new trans teen memoirs, a review of Robin Talley’s Lies We Tell Ourselves, and a list of GLBTQ YA resources for building a collection and for supporting teens. 

October Mourning: A  Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz


The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George


Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg


Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom by Brendan Halpin and Emily Franklin


Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills


The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth


Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour


Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin


Transgender Lives by Kirstin Cronn-Mills


Better Nate Than Ever and Five, Six, Seven, Nate by Tim Federle


Something Real by Heather Demetrios


Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith


Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always by Elissa Janine Hoole


 LGBTQ YA book review flashback


Weekly round-up of book-related links

*This week at Teen Librarian Toolbox I’m talking about “GLBTQ YA Resources for Building a Collection and Supporting Teens.” 


*At Forever Young Adult, “Heck YA, Diversity!: This Land Was Made for You and Me.” Author Maria E. Andreu talks about undocumented immigration in YA. I read this one for SLJ this summer and thought it was really powerful.


*At the Hub, “One thing leads to another: an interview with Andrew Smith.”  From the interview:
“I think that boys frequently repress themselves because of all the pressure put on them to conform to a standardized definition of what boys should be. Boys have been told an awful lot of things about what they should be—like non-readers, for example, or readers of only certain types of books—and when I see a boy reading one of Marie Lu’s novels, or Gayle Forman’s (and believe me, I have), and I talk to them about those books, I often see this tremendous sense of relief come over them that 1) I think it’s cool they’re reading, and 2) I’m not going to genderize their tastes. As far as diversity is concerned, yes, I do hope we all appreciate that the idea of diversity is all-inclusive and that the push to diversify books is very valuable. On the other hand, honest diversification requires honest and knowledgeable handling of some very critical details in order to avoid tokenism or stereotyping. In other words, there are some things I don’t think I can honestly write about without coming off as forced or ignorant, and I’d be very afraid of offending any subgroup in our society, with the possible exception of book banners.”


*At Book Riot, “Diversifying your reading beyond gender or race.” 


*At Teen Librarian Toolbox, “Skin and bones: talking about teens and eating disorders, a guest post by Sherry Shahan.”

Waiting on Wednesday: My True Love Gave To Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

waitingonwednesdayWaiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Sure it’s only October, but this is Minnesota—it could start snowing any time now! So it’s not too crazy that the book I’m waiting for right now is My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins.

Summary from bn.com: mytruelove

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers (Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Tayler and Kiersten White), edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins.  Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone.  So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy.  You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love. 


Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication date: 10/14/2014


truelovecontributorsWhy I’m excited: Look at all the great authors included in this book! No, really–look over there at them! So many people whose writing I just love. And as much as I hate holidays–and I really, really hate them a lot–I actually love holiday-themed things (books, tv episodes, movies, etc). Go figure.

(image of authors from Stephanie Perkins’s tumblr)