In 1989, when Leslea Newman first released the groundbreaking Heather Has Two Mommies, she remarked that the idea for the children’s book had come from a conversation with a lesbian couple lamenting the lack of options for stories to tell their new child.
Ten years on and the options available to gay and lesbian parents haven’t progressed much further, a situation which has prompted one research student and mum to work out why.
Masters student and mother of two Vivien Tait has spent the past months collecting information and interviews with parents, librarians and booksellers on why children should or should not have access to literature showing diverse family types.
She has also taken the step of penning her own children’s fantasy book, featuring a protagonist who just happens to have two mums.
In terms of my own children’s experiences, my eldest son never had any kids in his class who have had lesbian parents, although my youngest son has. I started thinking about what kind of effect it could have on them if they were able to see themselves represented in what they read, and then to see what effect that could have on their friends as well, Tait explained.
The thing is there isn’t much out there, particularly for nine to twelve year olds -” and that’s an age group where they’re more influenced by their peers, and really acutely aware of difference.
Part of that is about attitudes but there are many layers to why there aren’t more gay and lesbian families in fiction.
Other arguments are that people aren’t writing the stories, but then you have to ask, -˜Why aren’t they writing the stories?’
But it could also be that there hasn’t been a market. The publishers and the booksellers have to be around to make that happen.
Tait is working to finalise her study and expects it to be released by the end of the year. She would also be interested in getting assistance to push her manuscript through to the publication stage.
info: For more information on Tait’s study or to get in touch email firstname.lastname@example.org