Fairbanks schools considers adding 'just LGBTQ' lit. class - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, February 25, 2020
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Fairbanks schools considers adding ‘just LGBTQ’ lit. class

AGENDA LITERATURE: READ ALL ABOUT IT

The Fairbanks North Star Borough is seeking public input on a new curriculum offering for high school students: LGBTQ Literature.

The district offers other literature courses — American, World, Women’s, African-American, Native American, and even Holocaust literature. But educators want to add another genre, just for Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Questioning authors.

LGBTQ+ Literature: This integrated course combines a survey of LGBTQ+ authors with composition. LGBTQ+ prose, poetry, and drama are used as vehicles for examining culture and improving writing skills. Formal literary analysis is required, as well as a variety of other writing experiences,” the summary provided by the school district reads.

The book list includes authors who have been studied for years in schools, without being singled out and categorized simply by their sexual preference: Authors James Baldwin, Alice Walker, Herman Melville, Virginia Woolf, and E.M. Forster, to name a few.

Many of the books to be used in the class are newer titles and may have questionable claims to literature. Parrotfish, written by Ellen Wittlinger and published in 2007, is about a teenage girl who cuts her hair, changes her name and proceeds to live as a boy. In other words, it’s about a transgender teen’s experience in an American high school.

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit,  by Jeanette Winterson, is a coming-of-age story about a lesbian girl growing up in a conservative Pentecostal community in England. The book’s themes include same-sex relationships and the role of religious oppression, as the girl’s parents perform an exorcism on her.

The reading list that is on the draft curriculum includes:

  • The Color Purple (Alice Walker)
  • Giovanni’s Room (James Baldwin)
  • Orlando (Virginia Woolf)
  • Maurice (E.M. Forster)
  • The Hours (Michael Cunningham)
  • Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (JeanetteWinterson)
  • Under the Udala Trees (Chinelo Okparanta)
  • The Great Believers (Rebecca Makkai)
  • Billy Budd (Herman Melville)
  • De Profundis or Picture of Dorian Grey (Oscar Wilde)
  • Boy Erased (Garrard Conley)
  • I’ll Give You the Sun (Jandy Nelson)
  • Trap Door (Ed. Reina Gossett, Eric Stanley, Johanna Burton)
  • The Bold World (Jodie Patterson)
  • Parrotfish (Ellen Wittlinger)
  • Immoral Code (Lillian Clark)
  • The 57 Bus (Dashka Slater)
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (BeckyAlbertalli)

Some parents in Fairbanks are having none of it.

“Curriculum introduced by the Superintendent and Fairbanks North Star Borough School District employees seek to normalize homosexual behavior and go as far as to equate homosexuality with people of color and women. It’s under a false premise that homosexuals are to be considered disenfranchised and marginalized and given a minority status,” wrote one parent to Must Read Alaska, adding that the class fuels an emerging leftist doctrine that anyone who disagrees with the LGBTQ agenda in schools is a bigot, intolerant, or homophobic.

Parents seem to not be objecting to the incorporation of gay/lesbian writers into the curriculum, but have concerns that the topics in the books are mainly about sexual identity. The list does not include the lesbian classic, Rubyfruit Jungle, which would have been a controversial inclusion because of its extensive description of lesbian sexuality. Other school districts around the country have gone so far as to include it. Several books on the Fairbanks list are considered gay/lesbian standards.

The curriculum is not yet set in stone. The district is taking comment through Jan. 21 on the idea of a separate class for LGBTQ literature for high school upper-class students.

There are students who may embrace the course. According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2017, 4.5% of adult Americans identified as LGBT with 5.1% of women identifying as LGBT, and 3.9% of men. A Williams Institute survey of 2016, estimated that 0.6% of U.S. adults identify as transgender.

The curriculum choices in question are on Page 111 of the proposed curriculum, at this link. Comments on the curriculum can be provided at this link.

The next meeting of the North Star School Board is Jan. 21, 6 pm, 520 5th St Fairbanks. The board can be reached by email at this link.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Fairbanks used to be a frontier town where men were actually men.

  • Yet another demonstration that the government schools are overfunded. Cheers –

  • Why?

    • Why?… you ask? Being unable to reproduce, they can only recruit. They want your offspring.

  • It is time for Alaska families to exercise state statute, use their autonomy and get their kids out of the public schools. The funding formula is dependent on the enrollment of each child and a mass exodus of students will have clout. In Alaska we have complete freedom to educate our kids outside of the government oversight. We can choose whichever we feel is the best vehicle for educating our children, be it privately at the kitchen table albeit out of our own pocket, in a school district home education program, in a private school classroom or a public school classroom. This freedom gives us a strong voice and should be exercised. I am surprised how many parents are not aware of our home school laws which benefit every single family, no matter how they are choosing to educate. This autonomy isn’t just benefiting home schoolers.

  • Wake up folks. Pull your children out and home school them. Shut the Communist-backed, so-called public schools down and fire the teachers. Save America and your children. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

  • Fire the teachers huh that’s the solution? That’s pretty unfair. Most teachers come up here and leave their lives behind and try to do some good. This vigilante concept that you’re trying to spray is not the answer. Your McCarthyism era witch Hunt is no longer warranted. The solution is more parent involvement in schools like volunteering in your child’s classroom read to a group of kids actually help your kids with homework you know parenting stuff.

  • Fortunately gay folk are not nearly as marginalized as they once were. I remember a Pride March in the mid ’70’s in Anchorage that consisted of maybe 20 people walking around one block and including a man with a bag over his head and a sign “I’m proud and scared.” An Anchorage survey “One In Ten” in 1989 or thereabouts found that roughly 20% of landlords would refuse to rent to gay folk and not quite 10% would evict them. One in 4 employers would not hire them and one in five would fire them. The Equal Rights Commission at the time was arrantly biased: the executive director was called on the carpet by the Assembly and resigned over how they conducted their “investigation” into whether there was any anti gay bias in Anchorage. I assume the schools could do a LBGTetc. lit. class the same way as they did any other societal subset literature. Women’s lit. Black lit. Native lit. et cetera. If a student believes women’s place is in the home or a gay person sins against God, respect that and just teach the literature. As I told a regular customer once whose vote would cancel mine “Politics is out there.”

  • Not only no, but Hell No!!

  • This is not a legitimate school subject. Kids are going to be screwed up enough without an adult in a position of authority encouraging aberrant behavior.

  • No, please God do not let them do this!

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