Young adult fiction, Metaxas believes, has become overrun with LGBTQ characters. “Anyone who reads books for teens these days will tell you that portrayals of gay relationships and characters are rapidly increasing,” laments Metaxas. He cites no sources that suggest an increase of LGBTQ characters in YA fiction, although it may happily be true.
Not letting a lack of data hold him back, he also claims that “the statistics on rates of homosexuality in the real world” is “somewhere around 3 percent, maybe less.” Metaxas must have passed by the recent studies conducted in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel where one third to one half of young people identified as “not straight.” Perhaps then, instead of being “disproportionately gay,” YA fiction is catching up with the reality that many young adults are identifying as queer or transgender.
But it is not just the increasing prevalence of LGBTQ characters that is alarming. These books, with believable and sympathetic queer and transgender characters, “promote the gay lifestyle.” This gay agenda, according to Metaxas, “is far from healthy or edifying for young readers.” It is “dangerous,” in his opinion, for children or teens to be introduced to characters who question their sexual orientation or gender identity, as it “can be confusing to vulnerable and impressionable readers.” We are to draw the conclusion, from Metaxas’ warning, that simply knowing about the existence of fictional queer and transgender people could be enough to turn a straight child into a gay one.
While we may be skeptical of this premise, it is true that a young adult might pick up a book with an LGBTQ character and see themselves in it. Literature may help young people better understand their identities and may help facilitate their own journeys. What Metaxas is trying to prevent, then, is people understanding and embracing their authentic selves.
Metaxas concludes his article with a plug for his own website, which will assist parents in having discussions with their children “about sexuality from a Christian point of view.” His version of Christianity, of course, is not one that supports the rights or lives of LGBTQ people.
Instead of accessing Metaxas’ website, parents could look at resources like PFLAG which provides helpful explanations of terminology and information for allies of the LGBTQ community. Discussions with young people could include embracing diversity and acknowledging that many people – perhaps even their own children – are queer or transgender.
It is not alarming that books for teenagers are including more and more LGBTQ characters; it is refreshing, important, and essential.
Gwen is a writer who has an education degree, a social work background, an extensive knowledge of vegetables, and a devotion to queer revolutionary politics. She lives deep in the woods of Maine with two dogs, a magnificent partner, and an ever-growing collection of plants.