Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in School and Public Librarianship


Special Educational Services/Instruction


College of Education


Shontz, Marilyn


Homosexuality and literature; Teenagers in literature


Library and Information Science


Since the first young adult (YA) novel with gay content appeared in 1969, the number of gay-themed novels available for teens has increased significantly. However, research has shown that the long-awaited movement away from stereotyped characters and conservative storylines and into more realistic portrayals has been slow in materializing. This study utilized a content analysis of 22 YA novels with homosexual content to investigate whether changes have occurred in the portrayal of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (GLBTQ) characters and themes between earlier studies and 1998-2004. A total of 26 characterization and plot elements in each novel were analyzed in order to answer the following questions: What images and messages about gays and lesbians do these books present to teenagers? How do the images and messages portrayed in the novels published between 1998 and 2004 compare with those published prior to 1998? It was found that, although certain demographic elements have remained relatively static, these 22 novels presented a more realistic and authentic portrayal of GLBTQ characters than those of previous years.