Besides being a writer, I'm a teacher. At a rural, mainly white, high school—population approximately 500.
Because diversity in young adult literature has been all the flutter on Twitter and elsewhere (fist pump BEA), I thought it might be interesting to break down one of my smaller classes for you. Of course no naming names, and some of these attributes are doubled up on a particular student, but I was wowed. Because this was my smallest class. Imagine what this list would look like for my largest class? And can I repeat, I live in a decidedly "non-diverse" area.
1 Bi-racial (African American/white/Portuguese)
1 out gay student
1 teenage mother of a toddler
4 children of divorce
2 children of a single mother
1 child with a dead parent
1 child with a dead sibling
3 Honors students
1 Occupational Studies student
3 Devout Christians
1 Preacher's daughter
2 students with severe vision issues
1 Homeless student
1 student who never plans on leaving the area
4 students who want to travel the world
4 students living below the poverty line
3 students with jobs
And these are only the attributes I know. So when people say we need diverse literature, I think this list sums it up pretty nicely. Even in the smallest sampling, we find a multitude of issues, beliefs, and situations among today's teens. Let's write for them.