Queer Literature at Denver South Expands Curriculum Diversity

Queer Literature at Denver South Expands Curriculum Diversity

“They’re so excited.” Diversity. “They’re so excited about it.” It’s something we crave, inherently, in everything… “In your own lives…” …And something Denver South High School
students – who attend one of the most diverse schools in the state – crave within their
classrooms. Though… “Over the last few years,” …they haven’t necessarily seen it, in
the way they crave it most: “I mean, anybody who goes through high school
curriculum sees there are a lot of straight white male authors. Over the past few years, teachers have been
working to diversify. We’ve added African American lit. Hispanic lit. Women’s lit.” And last year… “Let’s move around!” …a student approached Mr. Craig, with a
voice still missing from the curriculum: one representing the LGBT community, in literature. “I think the coolest part about it, was it
was actually the student who brought it up and wanted it to happen.” “Number two: the claim is, ‘It is harder to
be a feminine guy than a masculine girl.” Mr. Craig’s is the first ‘queer literature’
class in DPS… and among the first nationally. “It’s just yet another way to include more
voices that represent our staff and student populations.” Populations… “This was really important to me.” …that have often asked, why not dig into
the history of this topic, if it – like race and gender – is just part of who we are? “It’s good for people to not shy away from
those conversations. Like, we wouldn’t shy away from talking about
racism even though it can be really awkward in the classroom. This is just another form of oppression that
we really have to talk about.” “It’s really cool having a class that teaches
acceptance.” “I was extremely appreciative and thankful
that he made it.” “I just think it’s where you’re from.” And students use debate, to gently understand
different viewpoints… “I feel like it’s very hard for a man to be
feminine as to a woman being masculine.” …when opinions can be as diverse as the
school’s population. “We just had a student transfer in, he moved
in from Missouri. He was like, ‘We never would’ve had a gay
literature class.’ And I was like, ‘Well, why do you think that
is?’ And he’s like, ‘Because people are so scared.’ And there’s no need to be.” More concerning than that, says Mr. Craig
– would be accepting an education that isn’t whole. “One of the problems that you see is if, all
you ever read is white male authors and you’re not a straight white male, you never see yourself
as someone who could be that person. Like, ‘I can’t be an author because that’s
not what people like me do.’ And I feel like, the more you represent, the
more you see, the more you can envision yourself as an author, or a creator, or understanding
the world and knowing that you’re not alone.” Instead, the diversity these students and
this teacher so crave is expanding. “I know we did the right thing. And I hope… I hope it changes a kid’s life.” For DPS Features, I’m Ben McKee

local_offerevent_note November 8, 2019

account_box Matthew Anderson


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