Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

First Advisor

Leigh Dillard

Abstract

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and other sexual minority, or LGBTQ+, youth are at high risk for suicide. In fact, youth identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual are four times more likely to attempt suicide compared to their heterosexual peers; the rates are higher for transgender/transsexual youth. Various factors contributing to these rates include bullying, lack of acceptance, and lack of academic material available to support LGBTQ+ youth (“Facts About Suicide”). Because of the severe need for LGBTQ+ resources, high school libraries should offer more literature with queer* characters and teachers should practice bibliotherapy with these books in their classrooms. Researchers Vare and Norton define bibliotherapy as “healing through literature… and guiding someone’s reading to foster an understanding of self or to help solve therapeutic needs” (2004, p. 190). In this same research, the authors articulate that the foundation to using bibliotherapy, especially for LGBTQ+ youth, is having educators make known that queer literature exists and is available for these students. However, while bibliotherapy is ideal in a group classroom setting, the likelihood of a queer book being taught in the classroom is still small. Thus, it is vital that these texts are still available in high school libraries so students have the ability to find a book with a character representing their own struggles in its bindings. This pilot study seeks to first ascertain the number of queer books available in select Georgia high schools while offering a sample lesson for teachers wanting to use bibliotherapy in the classroom with queer literature; next steps are included for future studies.

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