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"Queering Childrens Literature" Event - 12 February

(29 Posts)
Melroses Thu 13-Feb-20 14:40:21

This is well worth a read:

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Xanthangum Thu 13-Feb-20 14:46:51

Thanks Melroses.

IIRC panel member Sidonie Bertrand-shelton is the main author of the dodgy trans toolkit used by Oxfordshire CC and currently being challenged

LiterallyProblematic Thu 13-Feb-20 14:52:12

Brilliant description. Would love to know which school that librarian is smuggling books in to,

Melroses Thu 13-Feb-20 14:52:33

That's interesting - hadn't realised.

I was shocked at the ending - who checks what the school librarian buys confused

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Melroses Thu 13-Feb-20 14:54:03

sorry - cross post there.

Sarah's threads are fascinating - so glad I don't have to sit there all those hours.

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Xanthangum Thu 13-Feb-20 15:20:56

Buying your way up Stonewall's ladder has echoes of buying your dianetics auditing courses from the Scientologists...

Melroses Thu 13-Feb-20 15:33:41

said she was blessed to be able to buy the books she wanted, including one which features gay sex but didn’t inform anyone that she’d done that

It is this bit that shocked me - why is she smuggling books in when she is able to buy what she wants? Surely she is able to justify what she buys - that is the responsibility you have for the freedom to choose.

Anyway, as I have learned from MN, doing things in secret is a massive safeguarding red flag, especially when there is no need.

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OvaHere Thu 13-Feb-20 15:41:37

Yes Melroses

It also rather weirdly implies that gay sexual relationships are something subversive that need to be snuck in under the radar.

If this book was YA fiction aimed at teens then I don't see why all the deception was needed.

If it contained very explicit content aimed at over 18s then it's a poor judgement call and she should have taken it to her SMT to argue the merits of it's inclusion (as should be the case with any adult fiction in school libraries).

ScrimshawTheSecond Thu 13-Feb-20 15:47:06

Thanks, OP, and thanks Sarah.

Rosen is a disingenuous arse.

Mockersisrightasusual Thu 13-Feb-20 15:52:50

It is a very common criticism of children's lit that it fails to portray some form of approved normative behaviour. This view sees children's books as medicine which will do you 'good' even if they are difficult to swallow.

All fiction requires conflict, but these critics would remove it from children's fiction and replace it with lots of happy contented people all happily doing the right thing all the time, which would be boring as hell and would not sell, but never mind.

R0wantrees Thu 13-Feb-20 16:35:24

There are important & insightful reviews of Sarah Hagger-Holt's, 'Nothing Ever Happens Here' from the perspectives of women & children impacted by late transitioning adult males within the family.

'Your childhood, now freshly whitewashed! (Reviewing 'Nothing Ever Happens Here)'
"Of course, in the 1980s, when I was Izzy’s age, there were hardly any children in the UK with trans parents. Today it seems to be a phenomena that warrants a children’s novel. I am very glad it wasn’t around for me then as it seems to be priming children to accept emotional abuse.

The thing I wanted to address the most in this blog was what I called ‘The Pressure to Pretend It’s All OK’. It was the first thing I wrote here and the most urgent. If we can talk at all about our experiences, if they are to be honest, they have to be made without a censor. I feel my feelings. I don’t need a filter. I loved my Dad and wanted to make him happy, but bottling up my feelings left me with an eating disorder and a lot of anger. Sure, I am a happy middle-aged woman these days, but you should have seen the mess I was in during my twenties!!

I found this on the website for Relate, the UK relationship support organisation: (see screenshot)

I wish I had understood about emotional abuse at Izzy’s age. Perhaps I would have recognised what was happening to me as wrong. It’s important to recognise the pressures placed on children in all kinds of contexts. Having a trans parent shouldn’t be any different."

Make More Noise 'Some dads are trans. Get over it!'
An expectation that trans widows have to counter with depressing regularity, is that we should have not only welcomed, but celebrated our ex-husband’s transition and treated it as the first step on a stunning and brave rainbow adventure that we would embark on together. Our concern should always have been for how difficult it would be for him and we shouldn’t have had any feelings or concerns other than joy and pride.

I really didn’t want to read this book. I feared a book about a parent’s transition, written by a Stonewall advocate would place a similar expectation on children

I was right to be worried, because it does.

This book goes through the motions of allowing the child protagonists to have their own misgivings about their Dad’s transition but these feelings are only allowed to be short lived. By the end of the book, the children (12/13 year old Izzy and her siblings) are shown not only accepting the situation, but being grateful that is has improved their lives. It gives a wholly unrealistic standard of acceptance and celebration for any real child to live up to." (continues)

Teachers & school librarians would do well to ensure they have read & considered both articles as they raise specific Safeguarding concerns.

Mockersisrightasusual Thu 13-Feb-20 16:36:28

The example of Julian Is A Mermaid as featured at the British Library, is a good example of this sort of rubbish. There is no conflict. Julian is wonderful. His grandmother is wonderful. She takes him to see the wonderful mermaids who are all wonderful, then Julian becomes a wonderful mermaid which is wonderful. The End.

No light without shade. Compare this pile of poop with The Gruffalo, a story about prejudice, fear of the unknown and the need to be brave and look the world in the face.

ScrimshawTheSecond Thu 13-Feb-20 16:51:05

I find it quite funny that people think all books are de facto 'a good thing'.

If literature is powerful (it is), it has just as much power to disrupt, terrify, mislead and confuse as it does to educate, inspire, clarify and heal.

I just had a look at Julian is a Mermaid. I suppose the 'conflict' is that he drags down his Nana's curtains and thinks she'll be cross, but she isn't.

Hm. So, Julian's burning desire to be a mermaid/dress up trumps him doing what he knows is right? And that's fine, because in the end the most important thing is him being happy. Never mind how he behaves.

That is actually not a great, healthy message, but I suppose it fits in perfectly with the current trope-du-jour: never mind what gets torn down, so long as you get to satisfy your inner desires. It really is individualism taken to its logical conclusion.

Goosefoot Thu 13-Feb-20 17:08:48

If it contained very explicit content aimed at over 18s

Part of the difficulty as I see it is that there isn't agreement about this. Some YA literature now is quite explicit, this seems expected and is even lauded as a good thing in the YA community - a great way for kids to learn in a healthy way about sex.

Parents seem less enthused. Some don't care, and many others don't realise, but there are substantial numbers of parents of teens that would prefer that YA lit avoided explicit sex and excessive focus on sex.

If literature is powerful (it is), it has just as much power to disrupt, terrify, mislead and confuse as it does to educate, inspire, clarify and heal.

Which is why Plato wants poets banished from the city, right? Lately I feel that he was likely right about the fate of democracies.

Mockersisrightasusual Thu 13-Feb-20 17:33:32

If there is one 'lesson' children need to learn, it is the value of patience and deferred gratification, along with the notion that rewards are earned.

A need for immediate gratification will lead you to tear down the curtains when you want to dress up. Not a good road to take.

ScrimshawTheSecond Thu 13-Feb-20 18:33:42

Yep, agreed, Mockers. Trash your nana's house to indulge your love of fantasy.

And yes, Goosefoot. Nothing new under the sun!

Melroses Thu 13-Feb-20 21:54:34

I suppose the lack of literature content in the books at the Queering Children's Literature event in the OP link explains the lack of discussion of the literature. Although it does not explain the MA students confused

In Scotland, which has its own organisations pushing PostModernism and a consultation in progress on self id, there has been a lot of discussion of Queering of primary school education:

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Melroses Fri 14-Feb-20 16:13:41

Another, fuller, report from the event.

"I have been told in academic circles that you always start by defining your terms. As a woman with a grounded understanding of queer theory I entered into this “symposium” with a solid working definition of “queer”. I left the “symposium” with none. Apparently that is the definition of “queer” being “queered”. Very “POMO“. Anyways, let us move swiftly on and take a collective deep breath (queer or otherwise) before we drown in the never ending circular definitions that is higher Education at Goldsmiths University. It is queerly remarkable that in the hands of academia, a word laden with so much meaning has now been stripped to have none. How very queer indeed."

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Melroses Fri 14-Feb-20 16:16:22

All the books were from the “approved queer book” list produced for us by Professor Catherine Butler. I couldn’t help thinking that an “approved book list” was not really in the spirit of “queerness”


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ScrimshawTheSecond Fri 14-Feb-20 18:55:37

Queering queer.

Does that cancel it out and make it tally perfectly with the status quo? And that is why boys can't wear dresses, I suppose.

Mockersisrightasusual Sat 15-Feb-20 07:29:29

As the Blessed Dave Allen once observed, a masochist is someone who likes to take a cold shower, so he takes a hot one.

NeurotrashWarrior Sat 15-Feb-20 07:46:08

This doesn't surprise me; the new ofsted regime will see teachers in primary schools becoming "expert" subject leaders and going on and then delivering cpd in their schools. This used to be very centrally done as there used to be government units of work called the QCA units, though they weren't mandatory. But LEAs would run much more cpd than they can now.

Cpd private companies are popping up everywhere and of course organisations such as museums and charities such as stonewall etc rely on funding and must prove they're offering educational value through resources, books, workshops for kids and cpd for teachers.

Subject leaders are in charge of what resources are bought, what cpd is signed up to, if outside agencies are going to deliver and how much; most heads in larger schools are welcoming the delegation of these tasks. They'd discuss bigger choices such as outside agencies but books bought would be staff decisions.

A few initiatives are actually bought in by NHS / CAHMS/ LEA; specifically anything MH, autism or LGBTQ 🥗 related.

This is all fine and dandy if you are the history leader. Few more issues in PSHE and RSE.

My head hasn't looked at two particular books I'm not happy about that the young and keen PSHE lead has bought and keep meaning to query it.

R0wantrees Sat 15-Feb-20 12:48:34

Thanks for the link Melrose. I was struck by the conclusion:

"Queering children’s literature is a luxury only those inside this lecture theatre can afford. Queering may sound like sparkly fun, but the reality is insidious. Queer theory promotes regressive sex stereotypes to children while teaching them that their healthy bodies can be wrong. Transitioning children goes directly against the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. As our traumatised children go through medical transition and then grow into adulthood, the court cases are stacking up. Who will be clearing up this mess?

As the applause and the time ran on I couldn’t help but notice through the closed doors of the lecture theatre, was a middle aged black woman (probably just a parent – BAD WORD) in a tabard, bent over cleaning and picking sweet wrappers and the events detritus off the floor. I will leave that metaphor with you – just please dont queer it."


PaleBlueMoonlight Sat 15-Feb-20 13:42:45

I have only just read this thread (so much else going on!) as hadn't appreciated from the title that it was about the Rosen event and queering literature, so maybe think about changing the title? Anyway, really interesting to hear anY happened, so thank you to Sarah.

Melroses Sat 15-Feb-20 21:22:02

Thank you MNHQ for changing the thread title - hope the new one is clearer for everyone.

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