Annie off my mind: heterosexist censorship of adolescent literature in intermediate/senior language arts curricula
SubjectCensorship of LGBTQ content
Heteronormativity & heterosexism
Language arts curricula
MetadataShow full item record
This qualitative study analyzes the censorship of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) literature in intermediate and senior schools. This research identifies implicit heteronormativity in language arts curricula and analyzes the discursive contexts within which LGBTQ literature is censored. A focus on such contexts facilitated the proposal of recommendations to enhance LGBTQ representation in schools. Critical Discourse Analysis was conducted on a selection of eight controversial novels and news reports that were subjected to censorship based on LGBTQ content. The eight novels incorporated into this analysis are Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999), Timothy Findley's The Wars (1977), Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl (1947), Nancy Garden's Annie on My Mind (1982), Bette Greene's The Drowning of Stephan Jones (1991), Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner (2003), J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye (1951), and Alice Walker's The Color Purple (1982). In my analysis, I first analyze the content of the novels and then move to the news articles reporting on their censorship. My analysis of the eight novels indicates an overwhelmingly positive representation in lesbian relationships while depictions of gay males are often negative, and almost always associated with failure or tragedy. The analysis of the news reports and censorship examples reveals tendencies on the part of the censors to misrepresent LGBTQ content as pornographic and to misinterpret the LGBTQ novels as promoting a "gay lifestyle" (a term that is often used but never explained in the reports). The findings support the assertion that heterosexist censorship patterns must be arrested and policies for LGBTQ-inclusion in curriculum need to be adopted to foster school environments that are welcoming of LGBTQ students.