On April 14, we celebrate International Day of Pink, a day dedicated to putting an end to bullying towards the LGBTQ2SIA+ communities, and making our world a kinder, more inclusive place for all. The International Day of Pink has its origins in rural Nova Scotia. Two grade 12 students, David Shepherd and Travis Price, noticed that another boy in their school was being bullied with homophobic slurs and threats of physical violence because he wore a pink shirt. Recognizing that this was unacceptable, the older students decided to encourage the rest of the student body to wear pink the following day in a show of solidarity. They also bought pink shirts to distribute. The result was a “sea of pink,” and Day of Pink was born, and it spread around the world. To learn more about Day of Pink, please visit this website.
Due to the pandemic, you can’t see our pink shirts in person, but the Ottawa Public Library is happy to recommend some excellent books on this topic. Reading is an excellent way for people, especially young people, to develop empathy for members of the LGBTQ2IA+ communities and the struggles they face, as well as to see the profound negative impact bullying can have on others.
For the past year, many of our social interactions have taken place online. Thanks to the Internet and social media, we can stay in touch with family and friends, even if we are unable see them in person. Unfortunately, bullying also takes place in these virtual spaces. For International Day of Pink 2021, we’re highlighting cyber bullying. The following books discuss this form of bullying, as well as the consequences that it can have.
A follow-up to Jacob’s New Dress, Jacob’s Room to Choose tells the story of two gender non-conforming children – Jacob and Sophie – who are made to feel uneasy when they use the bathrooms that feel right to them. The book shows the power of an adult ally, and how traditional gender norms can be limiting. From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea is the story of a gender diverse child who, though they face a difficult situation in school, is comforted by their mother, who accepts them as they are.
Middle grade novels
Middle grade novels grade novels target readers between the ages of 8 and 12, but this can vary due to reading level, content, and many other factors. In The Whispers, 11-year-old Riley has a lot to deal with. This includes his mother’s disappearance, attempts to reconcile his gay identity with his fundamentalist upbringing, and facing bullies at school. Gracefully Grayson tells the story of a 12-year-old transgender girl who overcomes bullying and familial pressure to accept her true identity.
Young Adult Novels
There are many excellent YA novels that cover this topic, so it was hard to choose only a couple of them. Set in 1973, when being gay was still a criminal offense, Ziggy Stardust & Me is the poignant story of two boys who fall in love against all odds. While it discusses homophobic bullying, aversion therapy, and familial rejection, it is ultimately a story of hope, and a must read for teens and adults alike. If I Was Your Girl introduces us to Amanda, a young transwoman who is beginning her last year of high school in a new town. Amanda fits in and makes friends quickly but lives in fear that people will find out her secret. Though it deals with difficult topics, is an insightful and uplifting story. Please note that these two novels are geared towards more mature readers.
More and more of our social interactions are taking place online. Thanks to the Internet and social media, we can stay connected with friends and family, even when in-person visits are not possible. Unfortunately, bullying also takes place in virtual spaces, and LGBTQ2SIA+ people are among the most vulnerable to it. The following books discuss this often-subtle form of bullying, as well as its consequences. Take Three Girls is the story of three classmates with little in common forced to work together on a project. In the process, they attempt to expose the person or people behind a gossip website that spreads harmful rumors about girls’ sexuality, relationships, hookups, and the like. In Felix Ever After, Felix, who is Black, trans, and queer, is proud of who he is. When he begins receiving anonymous, transphobic messages, he knows he must fight back.
Whatever the colour of your shirt, OPL wishes you a day filled with kindness and new books to read!