Out Of Syllabus: 7 Times High-School Comedies Got Queer Representation Right

By 30 June 2023 5 mins read

Looking for perfectly written queer character moves? These captured LGBTQ+ stories by defy stereotypes and showcasing heartfelt narratives.

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Queer characters in most high-school comedy movies and shows are either reduced to homophobic-punch-down jokes that the school bullies (or even the ‘good guy’ protagonist, sometimes) crack or are awfully represented. To the extent that it not only makes the scenes unwatchable, it also defeats the whole purpose of an attempt to make a queer-inclusive film/show. Not to mention, most of them barely give the queer characters enough screen time just because they’re not the main characters. Queer characters are usually sidelined by a straight (often male) protagonist and are shown as an outcast. Even though it might be true that people around them don’t swiftly accept them, they deserve a nuanced and broader portrayal.

Thankfully, not all films are terrible at queer representation. Sophisticated and beautifully written movies like Emma Watson starrer The Perks of Being A Wallflower and shows like Sex Education and Heartstopper have set the bar really high for queer inclusive high-school comedies that people, especially teens from the LGBTQ+ community feel they were accurate portrayals. Nothing is more satisfying than laughing and at the same time relating to a perfectly written queer character.

Here are 7 hand-picked hilarious high-school comedies that did justice to the queer characters in them: 

Sex Education

Sex Education on Netflix received widespread acclaim for its inclusive and authentic portrayal of diverse sexualities, including strong queer representation. The show not only explores the intricacies of adolescent sexuality but also tackles important themes such as identity, acceptance, and the challenges faced by queer students of Moordale Secondary. The character of Eric, (played by Ncuti Gatwa) is a prime example of the show’s positive queer representation. Eric’s journey as a gay teen navigating relationships, self-discovery, and acceptance is portrayed brilliantly. Especially the struggle he goes through to come out to his Nigerian parents (who’re already worried about him facing racism.) In addition to Eric, there’s Aimee (played by Aimee Lou Wood) who explores her bisexuality, and a very masculine Adam Groff who has a hard time accepting that he’s gay and likes Eric.

Available on Netflix

Dating Amber

Dating Amber is a heartfelt coming-of-age film that explores the life of queer teens in a deeply resonant and authentic manner. Set in 1990s Ireland, the movie provides a poignant portrayal of two teenagers, Eddie and Amber, who form a bond as they navigate their own journeys of self-discovery and acceptance. The characters of Eddie and Amber add important and different perspectives to this list. Here’s how—Eddie is a gay teenager who struggles to embrace his sexuality openly in the testosterone-heavy surroundings of his classmates. His journey of self-acceptance is portrayed with sensitivity. Amber, on the other hand, identifies as a lesbian and is slightly more outgoing than Eddie about her identity in a culture that largely dismisses or misunderstands her sexual orientation. 

The film not only focuses on the internal struggles of the main characters but also addresses the impact of societal expectations and the consequences of hiding one’s true self. 

Available on Apple TV & YouTube 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is another coming-of-age film that addresses various themes, including queer representation. While the movie primarily focuses on the experiences of the protagonist, Charlie, and his group of friends, it also touches upon the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in a high school setting. In the film, Patrick (played by Ezra Miller) stands out as a prominent queer character. Patrick is openly gay and unapologetically embraces his sexual orientation, even in the face of adversity and judgment from others. He is portrayed as a vibrant and charismatic individual, unafraid to express his true self. Patrick’s relationship with Brad, another character in the film, provides a poignant exploration of the struggles faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in accepting and embracing their identities. Brad initially denies his own homosexuality and enters into a relationship with a girl to conform to societal expectations. This storyline highlights the internal conflicts and fear of judgment that many queer individuals experience.

Available on Apple TV & YouTube 

Love, Simon

Love, Simon is a film that centers mainly around the coming-out journey of its protagonist, Simon Spier. The film also stars 13 Reasons Why fame Katherine Blanford, who plays one of Simon’s best friends. The movie explores important themes such as identity, acceptance, and the complexities of navigating relationships while being closeted. One of the standout aspects of “Love, Simon” is its portrayal of a gay teenager as the main character, providing a relatable and authentic representation of the LGBTQ+ experience. Simon (played by Nick Robinson) is a relatable and endearing protagonist who grapples with his own sexual orientation and the fear of coming out to his family and friends. The film captures the internal struggle and emotional turmoil Simon experiences, shedding light on the challenges faced by many young queer individuals during their coming-out processes. The movie’s focus on Simon’s journey also emphasizes the universal aspects of self-discovery and acceptance. By doing so, “Love, Simon” allows a broad range of audiences to connect with the story, fostering empathy and understanding.

Available on Disney+ Hotstar

I’m Not Okay With This

I’m Not Okay with This (made by the producers of Stranger Things) is a series that primarily centers around the supernatural abilities of its protagonist, Sydney. It also touches upon her journey of self-discovery, including her exploration of her own sexuality. In the series, Sydney (played by Sophia Lillis) navigates her complicated emotions and relationships while dealing with her emerging superpowers. Alongside her best friend, Dina, (played by Sofia Bryant) Sydney begins to develop romantic feelings. As the story unfolds, Sydney’s attraction to both boys and girls becomes apparent, indicating her potential bisexuality. The representation of Sydney’s sexuality in “I’m Not Okay with This” offers a relatable portrayal of fluidity and exploration during adolescence. Although the show’s focus on Sydney’s sexuality is a subplot within the larger narrative, it contributes to the broader conversation on the self-acceptance of sexuality.

Available on Netflix

The Half of It

Written and directed by Alice Wu, the movie tells the story of Ellie Chu, a shy and intelligent teenager who becomes unlikely friends with a jock named Paul Munsky. While the film primarily focuses on themes of friendship and self-discovery, it also delves into Ellie’s exploration of her own sexuality. The film offers a fresh take on the coming-of-age genre, particularly regarding queer representation of a Chinese-American girl, Ellie (played by Leah Lewis), a lesbian character who grapples with her feelings for Aster Flores, a girl who Paul is also interested in. The movie sensitively depicts Ellie’s journey of self-acceptance and the challenges she faces in expressing her authentic self in a small, conservative town. The Half of It presents a nuanced portrayal of the complexities of sexuality, showcasing Ellie’s internal struggle and her growing affection for Aster. It delves into the themes of longing, desire, and the difficulties of navigating same-sex attraction in an environment that may not readily accept or understand it. Race inclusion is as accurately portrayed as queer representation.

Available on Netflix


One of the most popular queer comedy romances, Heartstoppper follows the evolving relationship between Charlie Spring and Nick Nelson, two British teenagers attending the same all-boys school. It beautifully captures their journey of self-discovery, friendship, and love as they navigate their feelings for each other and the challenges they face along the way. The plot of the show is true to its graphic novel of the same name. Charlie is openly gay, while Nick initially identifies as straight but later realizes he is bisexual. Their storylines explore the nuances of their sexual identities, the struggles they encounter, and their experiences in coming to terms with who they are. The series goes beyond the central romance and also features a diverse cast of supporting characters who add depth to the LGBTQ+ representation. It delves into their own personal journeys, highlighting the complexities of self-acceptance and the various ways people explore and express their sexual orientations.

Available on Netflix



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