(Un)happily ever after: Fairy tale morals, moralities, and heterosexism in children's texts

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Abstract

This essay explores the physical, emotional, and spiritual manifestations of heterosexism in childhood education. While there is abundant children's literature dealing with gay and lesbian parents of presumably straight children, little exists in this literature that directly addresses a child's developing gay, lesbian, or bisexual orientations. The author argues that rampant heteronormalcy in children's texts must be challenged just as feminists and multiculturalists challenge the moral and social prescriptions of "conventional" master narratives. Sociological and psychological studies substantiate that children's toys, games, cartoons, songs, and books affect children's perceptions of themselves and their world; this essay therefore reminds that "traditional" fairy tales and nursery rhymes are potent cultural markers that substantively impact childhood and by extension adult feelings of self-worth and legitimacy.

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Keywords

  • Childhood
  • Children's literature
  • Children's television
  • Early childhood education
  • Fairy tales
  • Feminist education
  • Gay and lesbian youth
  • Heterosexism
  • Multicultural education
  • Nursery rhymes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies

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