Date of Publication

9-15-2020

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Kristen Proehl, Associate Professor, Department of English

Abstract

A simple Google search for texts ordinarily studied in a high school English classroom generates a list of works written by, and featuring, white men. Currently, the texts taught in English classrooms in the United States are generally written by white men and feature middle-class white, cisgender, able-bodied, heterosexual men as protagonists. There are of course a few exceptions, such as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) or Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), but they are exceptions. Most is protagonists of stories read in schools are not representative of other kinds of students? This lack of diverse texts conflicts with the makeup of the students in the Unites States. According to a 2017 study by the National Center of Education Statistics, only 51% of school-aged children are White (NCES), with 49% of students being Black, Hispanic, Asian, Alaskan Native, Native American, or two or more races. A census of children under 18 from the Kids Count Data Center also confirms that 49% of students are female1 (Kids Count Data Center), and one from The Williams Institute reveals 1% are transgender, and 8% are LGBTQ (The Williams Institute). This means that a large percentage of students are not reading about characters that reflect back to them their own unique identities, experiences, and backgrounds.

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