By Corinne Murdock |
Arizona State University (ASU) advocated for keeping pornographic LGBTQ+ books in K-12 classrooms.
The university featured commentary from professors on the subject as part of a feature story dedicated to Pride Month issued last week.
“In June, Pride Month is a time to promote inclusivity, raise awareness and celebrate the contributions the LGBTQ+ community has made to society,” read the article.
ASU classified an explicit graphic novel, “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” as an example of a banned book that qualified as a source of knowledge. The book details a wide variety of gay sexual acts and fantasies carried out by minors and adults.
English professor Gabriel Acevedo, who focuses some of his teaching on expanding students’ knowledge of LGBTQ+ literature, said that banning these kinds of books would limit students’ intellectual growth.
“By limiting that knowledge or not providing access to it, we are underestimating the student’s abilities to make choices that fit their lives,” said Acevedo. “We learn by reading. We learn by engaging these topics. If we don’t know these topics (because) we don’t engage with these materials, are we learning?”
School of Social Transformation Justice and Social Inquiry professor Madelaine Adelman said that LGBTQ+ content in K-12 schools is important for fostering acceptance.
“Why would they want to be in a place where they don’t feel accepted? Why would they want to continue their education in that space?” said Adelman.
Adelman co-founded the Phoenix chapter of the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in 2002 and served as its co-chair until 2013. Adelman was also a founding member of GLSEN’s National Advisory Council in 2004, departing the council in 2013. Adelman joined GLSEN’s Board of Directors in 2010.
The GLSEN Phoenix chapter appears wherever controversy over sexualizing children occurs. Recurring issues arise with GLSEN’s network of Gay-Straight Alliance or Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) clubs in schools. GLSEN Phoenix also conducts LGBTQ+ affirmation training that schools have required teachers to attend, such as Cocopah Middle School.
In December 2021, GLSEN Phoenix urged teachers to create secret libraries to hide controversial or banned content.
Over the last few years, GLSEN has spoken out against bills to protect minors, such as last year’s ban on gender transition surgeries.
The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) had a working relationship with GLSEN under former Superintendent Kathy Hoffman.
ASU and GLSEN have numerous other ties, including the program manager for the Transgender Education Program (TEP), Cammy Bellis. Her work at ASU over the past decade concerned establishing greater awareness and normalization of LGBTQ+ lifestyles in K-12 environments.
One of the GLSEN Phoenix board members who encouraged the creation of secret libraries in schools, Andi Young, recently received her master’s degree in social work from ASU. Young is currently the co-chair of the board, and serves as a therapist/licensed master social worker with Beckstein Behavioral Health. Young describes herself as an “LGBTQ-affirming therapist” that assists teenagers and adults in living their “full, true, authentic selves.”