On the reading list of an English III class at Apex Friendship High School in Wake County sits a book that holds a consistent place on the top ten list of most challenged books in the country. That book is the graphic novel Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel.
For updates, scroll to the end of the article.
Bechdel is the author of the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For and Fun Home rose to number 7 on the top challenged books list in 2015.
Fun Home is graphic in the pictorial sense and in overall content. Some have even called it pornographic – and they aren’t wrong. For example, there are multiple sex scenes, an explicit depiction of lesbian oral sex, nudity, and masturbation.
In addition, there are scenes showing the father cruising for young men, and the reader learns he preys on his young male students. There are questionable photos by the father of his own kids and imagery of cut open dead bodies. If those were not enough, there are more linked in this article at Hornet.com.
“In the enormous amount of literature out there, how was this trash chosen? This wouldn’t even remotely appropriate reading even for a brothel, much less a high school English class,” one reader wrote to me over the weekend.
Another called Fun Home the “filth they’ve come to expect” in a Wake County school.
Here is the description of it on Amazon:
Meet Alison’s father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family’s Victorian home, a third-generation funeral home director, a high school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who, as it turns out, is involved with his male students and a family babysitter. Through narrative that is alternately heartbreaking and fiercely funny, we are drawn into a daughter’s complex yearning for her father. And yet, apart from assigned stints dusting caskets at the family-owned “fun home,” as Alison and her brothers call it, the relationship achieves its most intimate expression through the shared code of books. When Alison comes out as homosexual herself in late adolescense, the denouement is swift, graphic — and redemptive.
Exactly what are the teenage students in a high school English III class supposed to take away from this? Perhaps parents should be asking where the ‘book’ came from first.
Parents in Wake County should be aware that the Office of Equity Affairs hired a Teaching Tolerance employee in June of 2018. Teaching Tolerance is an offshoot of the highly controversial Southern Poverty Law Center.
Lauryn Mascarenaz was hired to be the“Director of Equity Affairs for Coaching and Leadership.” Her salary at the date of hire was $85,000, which is well over that of what most classroom teachers make. As of the end of 2019, she got a raise and was making $86,708.
Mascarenaz still writes at Teaching Tolerance’s website and has been responsible for “Social Justice Standards” and “Anti-Bias Framework’ being put into the professional development repository for Wake County teachers.
The”Social Justice Standards” and “Anti-Bias Framework” material include reading lists and resources. Bechdel’s Fun Home is found under the “Best Practices for Serving LGBTQ Students.” Here is how Teaching Tolerance describes it:
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
This memoir and graphic novel offers a darkly funny family tale, marked by gothic twists, a family funeral home, sexual angst and great books. This book is often challenged, but excerpts may be appropriate for high school classrooms.
This blog has tracked Teaching Tolerance and its radical social justice activism and promotion of LGBT materials in K-12 education for almost a decade. The Exposing Teaching Tolerance page on this website has become the most visited section in the last two years. Incidents like the one at Apex Friendship High illustrate why.
As of this afternoon, the principal of Apex Friendship High has made the call to pull the novel from the reading list after parents demanded to know why or how it was placed on an English III class’ reading list.
An email went out to a parent from Principal Matt Wight which said he has removed the book from consideration for future use and that he will make sure copies of the book are collected from students who may have it.
Principal Wright also apologized to the parent and said he would work with the English Dept. to vet texts to ensure they are appropriate.