The range of media available to children and young people is greater today than ever before. Although classic role models and ster eotypes often prevail, there is also a lot of media content in which diversity is shown.
The words diversity and queer or queerness are increasingly common on social media. Diversity means variety and refers to society. That is, the people who make up a society are not all the same. A diverse society is made up of people from different backgrounds, religions, ways of thinking, sexual orientation, gender identity, with disabilities, and more.
Queer people are part of this society. A great many people identify as heterosexual and feel comfortable in the gender they were assigned at birth. People who call themselves queer usually have a different sexuality, e.g. they are lesbian or bi-sexual. Other queer people are trans or non-binary – so they don’t necessarily identify with the gender their birth certificate says they are. Queer people were not visible in society for a long time. This is increasingly changing.
More information on the topic of queerness can be found in the book “Was ist eigentlich dieses LGTBQI*?” (What is this LGTBQI*? ), which is suitable for children, and at Kindersache from the German Children ‘s Fund (DKHW), as well as at the Queer Lexicon.
For children and young people, it is important that the diversity that exists in society is also visible in the media. Influencers, series characters, athletes, etc. are role models for them. They offer young people orientation in the development of their own identity.
If young children learn through picture books that the world is colorful and society is diverse, it will also be normal for them in the future. Children are inquisitive and want to discover the world. For school children, KiKa, among others, offers interesting documentaries as well as exciting films and series. Diversity and queerness have so far been most visible in media offerings for young people or used by young people. In addition to the channels of various influencers on social media, some series of streaming providers and media libraries are worth highlighting. Here are some selected media recommendations for children and young people:
The picture book by Renata Galindo shows that families are different. Not all families have mom, dad and kids. A little dog tells about his life with his new mom, a cat. [Published by Nord-Süd-Verlag; ages 4 and up.]
Julian loves mermaids and would love to be one himself. A beautifully illustrated book about how it’s okay to be “different.” [Published by Knesebeck; ages 4 and up.]
More ideas for children’s and young adults’ books dedicated to diversity can be found on the blog buuu.ch.
The animated film lovingly tells the story of the two circus cats Pasha and Lucky. They flee from their gay ringmaster. On their escape, they find a new friend, Django the kangaroo – who is also gay – and learn what life is really about. [Recommended for ages 5 and up; more at FLIMMO.]
The app addresses the themes of diversity and inclusion in an adventure game in which four friends search for their kidnapped guide dog, Tofu. Read more at lesenmit.app. [Free for iOS and Android; recommended for ages 8 and up].
In this KiKA series, six teens call attention to racist behavior. They humorously stimulate the audience to think and show that things can be done differently. [Can be found in the KiKA media library, recommended for ages 9 and up].
The ZDF web series centers on a clique from a sixth grade class. The main theme in the story is friendship. Diversity does not play a superficial role, but is portrayed as a matter of course through the diversity of the characters. [Can be found in the ZDF-Mediathek, recommended for ages 9 and up].
The feature film tells the story of Evan, who has to move from New York to a small town shortly before his 13th birthday. Again, it’s about friendship; diversity is visible through the different characters. [Read more at FLIMMO; watch on Netflix; recommended for ages 9 and up].
The first book in a very successful series: it tells the story of 100 women, including Malala and Sophie Scholl. The point is to show that women can also achieve a lot, but that it has been underreported in the past. The book offers positive role models for girls and young women. For guys, it is certainly also exciting to discover these impressive women. [Published in German by Hanser; ages 10 and up.]
The computer game revolves around the story of twins Alyson and Tyler. Thematically, it is both about the culture of an indigenous people in North America and about the gender reassignment of Tyler, who has identified as male since childhood. [Game by Microsoft; USK: 12 years.]
The funk web series focuses on a different person in each season; it’s always about young people about to graduate from high school. Through the short episodes and the characters’ Instagram channels, viewers get to know and understand directly their feelings and concerns in finding their own identity. [Can be seen on YouTube and in the media libraries of ARD and ZDF; recommended for ages 14 and up].
At the center of this series is Otis, a somewhat shy boy (about 16 years old). By chance, he and a fellow student give sex advice at his school in exchange for money. All the characters in the series are colorful and diverse. They begin to discover their sexuality, which the series depicts without taboos. [Watch on Netflix; recommended for ages 14 and up.]
The main character of this ZDF series is Charlie, who lives in a high-rise housing estate on the outskirts of the city. As the plot unfolds, she realizes that she doesn’t really feel like a girl or a woman, but she doesn’t feel like a man either. Charlie is non-binary. [Viewable on ZDF-Mediathek; recommended for ages 14 and up.]
In the lovingly realized Netflix series “Heartstopper” Nick and Charlie fall in love with each other. The two boys couldn’t be more different: Shy Charlie is avowedly gay and football star Nick is attracted to Charlie, even though he’s only ever been with girls. [Watch on Netflix; recommended for ages 14 and up.]
The series is based on the graphic novel or comic book by Alice Oseman. Her books for young people successfully address the current reality of young people’s lives. “Loveless” is about 18-year-old Georgia, who has never really been in love and is searching for her sexuality. [Published in German by Loewe; ages 14 and up.]
When choosing media content for your child, make sure to avoid clichéd portrayals of characters in books, series, and movies. The media offer is colorful and diverse. If your child has questions about various characters or people in media, address them openly. If you are unsure yourself, use age-appropriate information on the Internet and in libraries.