In faraway Queensland, Australia, academics have been calling for more Queer inclusive literature to be introduced into high school curricula. But Daily Telegraph is having none of it.
Recently, Drs. Kelli McGraw and Lisa van Leent of the Queensland University of Technology conducted research and found out that only two out of the 21 recommended literature texts in the Australian high school English curriculum had even indirectly queer characters or subthemes.
These books are The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. The former book has a character with ‘homosexual leanings’ named Nick while there is a woman, Viola, who disguises herself as a man in Twelfth Night.
The aforementioned academics have been appealing for more queer inclusive literature. They write that the persistence of heteronormativity in Australian schools should be addressed so as to enable more representation of diverse sexual identities and issues of sexual differences.
In 2017, the Marriage equality bill passed Australia’s parliament in a landslide voting. The passing into law of the marriage equality bill which allows two people, regardless of sex, to marry legally, made Australia the 25th country to recognize same-sex marriage. It was revealed that fewer than five members of parliament objected to the bill.
It is on the back of this development that McGraw and Van Leent insist that the curriculum “should be adapted to the real conditions in which teachers work.”
“By queering the senior English sample text list in the Australian curriculum…at the very least, LGBTIQ+ youth will see aspects of their lives reflected at school,” they write. “We resist the notion that students studying English in secondary school are not mature enough to discuss sexuality, as well as the notion that conversations about diverse sexual identities are inappropriate for English teachers to engage, particularly once students are in Years 11 and 12 and preparing to enter the adult world.”
The newspaper Daily Telegraph, however, is not having it. In retort, conservative education commentator, Dr Kevin Donnelly claimed that such push “would see high school students forced to study LGBTIQ literature in a bid to destroy ‘heterosexual privilege’.” Two days ago, he said that the push for LGBTQ in the curriculum is aimed at “indoctrinating students and ensuring issues are evaluated according to what the cultural-left considers politically correct.”
In quoting his Daily Telegraph article on Facebook, he added that the push for queer inclusive literature in high school curricula is “just another example of the cultural-left imposing its PC radical LGBTIQ+ agenda on schools.”
However, English in Australia editor Larissa McLean Davies has argued the importance of having conversations about sexuality, citing literary greats like The Great Gatsby and Romeo and Juliet. She notes that “literature is a fundamental part of English and has always been a way of understanding the human condition and talking about difficult issues.”
“Teachers are trained professionals working with texts and understand the issues so what better environment to have these discussions,” she says.
Do you agree that more queer books should be included at the secondary school level? Before you leave, please take a look at one of our favorite queer books that we read last year.