This is a lazy blog post. It really is.
I basically just wanted to share a very sharp, well-reasoned analysis of the status of LGBT YA written by author Malinda Lo earlier this week (“LGBT Young Adult Books 2003-2013: A Decade of Slow But Steady Change”).
You might find the title to be a bit charitable after you read the article and see her pie charts and graphs. (Yay for Pie Charts and Graphs!) In an industry that publishes thousands of young adult books every year, on average only fifteen of those books portray LGBT teens and/or “LGBT issues” such as growing up with same-sex parents or bullying in school.
Anyway, as always, Lo is thoughtful and precise in her consideration of the dilemma. Part of that precision is focusing on big publishers only. The number of LGBT titles from small presses, or those self-published by authors, is very challenging to count and analyze. Including those titles could skew perceptions. It’s important that LGBT books are published, but it’s also important that they have a wide distribution so that they get to teen readers. That’s not to say that LGBT titles at big publishers are better. I like the way that Lo addresses this issue:
“In some ways, I see the largest YA publishers as analogous to the broadcast networks on television. Broadcast networks have historically had the widest reach, even though much quality programming happens these days on cable channels that have smaller distribution in the television marketplace. An analysis of the broadcast networks — or the major publishers — doesn’t negate the contributions that smaller networks (or publishers) can and do make, especially in representation of minorities, but I do think the major networks (and publishers) have a greater responsibility due to their greater reach.”