Becoming Readers of Literature with LGBT Themes

In and Out of Classrooms

Authored by: Mollie V. Blackburn , Caroline T. Clark

Handbook of Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Print publication date:  October  2010
Online publication date:  April  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415965057
eBook ISBN: 9780203843543
Adobe ISBN: 9781136913570

10.4324/9780203843543.ch11

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Abstract

Who gets to feel safe as a reader in school? What if the selected reading and literature are actually intended to be for your benefit; and yet you remain invisible, or worse, the subject of disdain? Conversely, what is it like to be in the company of friends and allies who want to know what it’s like to be you—who seek your insights so they can learn from you, laugh with you, and live with you? In this groundbreaking chapter, Mollie Blackburn and Caroline Clark provide a framework for understanding what gets asked of books, readers, and the places where reading happens—whether the focus of this reading is situated in school or out of school, with LGBTQ youth, teachers, and allies in mind.

In this chapter, we ask where and how young people become readers of literature with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/ or transgender (LGBT) themes in and out of classrooms in contemporary contexts. We begin by discussing the theoretical framework that guides our interpretations of LGBT-themed literature and contexts. Then, we consider where youth read by reviewing scholarship on reading LGBT-themed texts situated in elementary through secondary classrooms. However, the primary focus of our chapter will be on adolescent and young adult readers of LGBT-themed literature. We next turn to the scholarship documenting readers of LGBT-themed literature beyond classrooms to review the few studies that focus on the reading of this literature in out-of-school contexts intended to support LGBTQ 1 people. Then, we focus on how a particular group of LGBTQ and allied adolescents and adults, including ourselves, are working together to become readers of literature with LGBT themes outside of classrooms.

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