I have had this article for a while about the fact that Disney movies elevate love to great heights, it can change laws, wake people from sleeping, and stop wars, but it has to be heterosexual love. All of the Disney stories and many other movies show the princess or others falling in love, but it is always in a opposite-sex relationship. The article discusses two different studies that show the power and influence that these repeated images have on children, how they are subtly and sometimes not so subtly taught that only heterosexuals can love. I had forgotten that I had bookmarked this article and when I found it again, yesterday, I started to think about a post about this exact topic. Then I started to think about all of the other issues with the Disney Princesses, they are all white or white looking, they are helpless, they need men to save them, in Snow White's case she did the dishes and cleaned up after seven men while they went to work, the Little Mermaid gave up her life and identity for a man, there are so many issues with the Princesses and then of course how does this affect the children especially the little girls who watch these movies over and over again. It cannot have a positive influence on their self-esteem and their views of love and what is expected of women in our society. But then I started to think, but what are the alternatives? Many of these stories are based upon fairy tales that are 200-300 years old and so as our society has advanced, it may not have gone far, but still there are some changes, our fairy tales have not changed. In fact the only princess I can think of that would be a positive role model for little girls is Princess Fiona from Shrek and really only in the first movie. It seems to be that after the first Shrek movie, Fiona becomes more of a domestic housewife and we lose the asskicking strong female that is presented in the first movie.
This also leaves us with no positive role models of non-heterosexual life and parenting. I really was going to write about how we need more stories about gay families, which may lead to more movies about gay families and this will lead to young children growing up understanding that gay families are like any other family and love their children. This also teaches children that if they grow up to be gay, it is Ok and they can still hope, dream and have a family when they are adults. But I thought I better look for books with gay families before I started to spout off. I knew there were books for gay teenagers, but were there any books that would appeal to the preschool crowd that I work with? Well, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that are many really good books out there that highlight gay families. I even learned that Barnes & Noble online has a whole section that is titled:Children of gay parents->Children's fiction, so you can find books for or about children of gay parents. I also found two other resources about books that highlight gay families or gay individuals here and here. So instead of being annoyed and depressed that there are no really good books out there to teach children about gay families, I found several resources. I know there is so much more that needs to be done so that children can begin to realize that heterosexual love is not the only type of love.
But thinking about these books and the fact that I want to get some of them to add to my children's book collection that I am constantly working on, I began to wonder if I could actually read any of these books in my classroom. If I brought them in, would the parent's freak out? Hell, would the administration freak out? Would I be asked to not read those types of books in school? There are a few teachers who may not agree with me on reading these books, but since they are not my supervisor, I do not worry about them. As much as I like to push my boundaries and even be a bit of a rebel at times, I need my job and if reading books that feature gay families threatens my job, I have to decide whether it is worth it. I am not saying I wouldn't read books with gay families, but I need to find ways of incorporating all types of families in my classroom including gay families.