Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGBT Rights with 21 Activities

192p. chron. filmog. further reading. index. notes. photos. reprods. websites. Chicago Review. Oct. 2015. pap. $17.95. ISBN 9781613730829.
Gr 5–8—Tackling everything from Sappho, the Daughters of Bilitis, and the Lavender Menace to Dan Savage, Gladys Bentley, and Ellen DeGeneres, this title offers a comprehensive view of LGBTQ history. While the topic is often framed through the lens of marriage rights, this book provides a multifaceted perspective, emphasizing gay and lesbian figures' places in history. Readers learn that Louisa May Alcott, Maurice Sendak, Marlene Dietrich, Bayard Rustin, and Alan Turing were all members of the LGBTQ community, though many of them were not "out." Readers also gain an understanding of the scope of LGBTQ erasure that has occurred from Pohlen's discussion of how in Emily Dickinson's love poems the words she and her were changed to he and her. While many have whitewashed LGBTQ history, Pohlen discusses two transgender individuals of color who were present at Stonewall (both were teens at the time), Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. In addition, Pohlen emphasizes that while the Stonewall Riots were an important turning point in American history, they were not the only time that the queer community has stood up for its rights. The text is upbeat, conversational, and often humorous in tone. Smattered with compelling photographs, biographical sidebars, and interactive activities (of varying quality), this vital and inclusive history fleshes out the LGBTQ education readers have long been denied, bringing it to light and giving it the attention it deserves.
VERDICT A necessary purchase for collections that serve middle grade and teenage patrons.

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