The Dayton Metro Library created this flag of the 100 most-challenged books from 1990-2000. Photo via Flickr.
On Monday of this week, the American Library Association released the list of 2013’s top ten most frequently challenged books. You’d expect it to be packed with racy titles, yes? In fact, seven out of the ten top titles would be shelved in a bookstore’s young adult or children’s section.
Last week, I looked at how Malinda Lo and Marie Lu, adult Asian-American authors, wrote race and gender into their worlds. In this post, let's look at how a NYC Asian high school student writes race and gender in his dystopia.
Fifteen-year-old Isamu Fukui wrote Truancy while attending Stuyvesant High School, one of New York City's most competitive and demanding public high schools. In many ways, the book reads as a critique of the public school system.
Today marks the end of my time as a guest blogger for Bitch. Eight weeks and 24 posts later, I've learned a lot from the editors (thank you, Kelsey!) and readers about writing and politics. And the politics of writing. Rather than end off by talking specifically about a particular topic at the intersection of youth, sexuality, and education, I want to reflect on the nature of doing analytical writing at this political nexus.
I noticed a friend's Facebook share the other day of a Maxim "article" along with a critique of the language of "lads mags." Here's the magazine feature, which is disgustingly violent in the most straightforward of ways, in order to give some context, but what I really want to talk about are some of the public conversations that have followed it.
The idea was that a study capable of producing statistics and other empirically grounded information could be used as a way to get more funding for existing services and in the creation of new services for trans people. Of course Scanlon and Travers already knew there was a pressing need for better health services, but they had to find a way to formalize and support what they already knew so that the government would have a harder time ignoring their requests.
With a community-based research model directed in significant part by a community engagement team of trans people, researchers Greta Bauer from the University of Western Ontario (my alma mater!) and Robb Travers from Sir Wilfrid Laurier University were (rigorously) interviewed and hired to help out on the project with the provision that they met a specific set of criteria, one of the most important being their ability to let trans people be experts in their own issues. Trans PULSE has used respondent-driven sampling, where access to a comprehensive online or paper survey is shared through networks of trans people who already know each other. This method allows the project team to access an appropriate sample of what they've called "hidden populations" who can't be randomly sampled.
What do you think? Is it more important to adhere to laws that draw the age of minority at 18 for the protection of young people? Or to allow people under the age of 18 to participate in research about their own sexual health that concerns the erotic materials that they access and make?
I just read an article in the most recent Curve magazine issue (which was themed around the concept of lesbian families) called "Back to School: How to Choose an LGBT-positive school for your child." This article was mostly written from the perspective of queer parents choosing a school for their child of whatever gender or orientation, based on the priority of finding an environment that is LGBT-affirming. The article suggests approaching potential schools with a checklist of questions such as "do school forms specify 'parent/guardian' rather than 'mother/father'?...Are any teachers out?...How does the school address issues of gender diversity?...Does the school encourage or support gender-diverse expressions and play?". Obviously, things have changed a lot since I was in elementary school, and I'm glad to see it.
This post is about exclusion and the ethics of disagreement. Not exclusion by a dominant society of marginalized populations, but rather the selective practices of alliance and exclusion in anti-oppressive political circles. The theme I want to use to think through these questions is one of maintaining family ties (chosen family, birth family, or otherwise). I wonder if the idea of "unconditional care" (not to say this is the actual experience of all or many families!) or the practice of making a distinction between thinking critically and being critical/making ethical judgments versus being judgmental might help to foster an ethics of disagreement within social justice communities prone to being divided by political differences. I'm thinking of examples from school-based groups, to civic community organizations, to online commenter communities like the ever-changing group drawn into conversation by Bitch.