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How to incorporate LGBTQ-themed books into the classroom?

jayah's picture

As I read Blackburn’s reading, I couldn’t help but think: What if LGBTQ themed books were incorporated in every school’s curriculum. How would the school environment change? Would it be a positive or a negative change? I know that this depends on the school, but I was thinking about it in terms of my high school. One of the students spoke about how her middle school teachers forbid LGBTQ, but it is more accepted in high schools. I agree. I believe that it more common that GSA would be in high schools rather than a middle school, but then again, that’s where the limit is drawn. I tried to think of books that I read in high school that included characters from the LGBTQ community, but I could not think of any.

I believe that it will cause various problems if students read LGBTQ literature, especially amongst boys. As I read Blackburn, I really wanted him to point out the gender of the four allies present in the group. Judging by the names, they all seemed to be females. I think that females are more accepting to learning about or read literature from the LGBTQ community. Reflecting on my high school, the people who were in GSA that were allies were females. There were not even that many boys in the club. If a boy was gay, he would most likely keep it to himself for the fear of being teased. The facilitator of the group was even a female. The question that rises from this is: How can schools include reading with LGBTQ characters in an environment that is homophobic? One of the characters that Blackburn describes discusses how teachers ignore homophobic behavior, allowing students to call each other “gay” or “faggot.” Some teachers view this as a norm in their classroom environment, especially the word “gay.” Therefore, they may not address whenever a student says it.

Blackburn states the importance of teachers addressing problems when they are presented. It is important for teachers to be allies with the LGBTQ community because they carry authority. But, what if the teacher is homophobic? Teachers do have their own values and beliefs, and may not support the LGBTQ community. I believe teachers like this can still tell students not to use “gay” or “faggot” as terms that are harmful or mocking, but teachers that are homophobic would be less likely to incorporate LGBTQ literature into their curriculum. I do believe that it is important to create this safe space like GSA in schools though, because it gets students who are interested in learning more about the LGBTQ community to become allies. Selecting, reading, and discussing LGBTQ-themed texts teach students about experiences in the gay community. Others will consider the impact of their actions. The only problem with it being a club is that it is a student’s choice. This is a problem because other students can question, “why are you straight and joining a club like that?” This can lead to the allies being teased and affect students who want to become allies because they do not want to be questioned about their sexuality or teased for being an ally. How can students, who wouldn’t think twice about joining a club like GSA, be inspired to join so that they can learn histories of the LGBTQ community, which would lead them to elicit sympathy or empathy?

            Blackburn’s reading left me with many questions because I tried to imagine how LGBTQ-themed readings could be incorporated into a school environment that is not too accepting of the LGBTQ community. Also, how could we incorporate these readings without putting students off and try to make students want to learn about the LGBTQ community?