Banned Childhoods: Storying Book Banning practices and LGBTQ+ Educational Activism in the Conservative Midwest
Josh Coleman

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Iowa

Primary Discipline

Book bans are on the rise across the United States, and LGBTQ+ children?s books are now the most banned of the 21st century. Targeted by social media campaigns and conservative educational policy (e.g., Florida?s ?Don?t Say Gay Bill?), these texts spotlight an ideological battleground around banned childhoods, or the ideological belief that LGBTQ+ children are inappropriate for inclusion in U.S. schools and libraries. While educational scholarship has focused on nation-level change, research has yet to account for region-specific book banning practices and educational activism, despite book bans clustering in politically conservative regions (e.g., the Midwest and Deep South). Addressing this gap, this narrative inquiry study extends an ongoing research partnership with a Midwestern LGBTQ+ community organization and uses regional storytelling by local educational stakeholders (e.g., teachers, librarians, and community members) to chronicle educational activism in the conservative region. This study?s findings seek to advance educational knowledge on regional distinctions in book banning practices and educational activism, particularly in the Midwest. Storying one politically conservative region, project implications will increase access to LGBTQ+ children?s literature by 1) informing policy that targets region-specific book banning practices and 2) detailing practitioner approaches to challenging regional book bans in libraries and schools.
About Josh Coleman
James Joshua Coleman (Josh) is an Assistant Professor of English Education in the University of Iowa?s College of Education. His research draws upon social science and humanities-based research traditions to integrate queer and trans studies scholarship with educational research. In particular, his work takes up critical narrative approaches to the study of queer and trans educator wellbeing as well as the study of LGBTQ+ youth literature. Dr. Coleman?s publications can be found in Teachers College Record, Teaching and Teacher Education, Reading Research Quarterly, Written Communication, English Education, and the Journal of Children?s Literature. His research has received awards from the AERA Queer SIG and the Conference on College Composition & Communication. Dr. Coleman received his Ph.D. from The University of Pennsylvania?s Graduate School of Education. He additionally holds an M.A. in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A.T from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a B.A. in English and French literature from Mercer University. Dr. Coleman was formerly a high school English teacher in Charlotte, NC and Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Paris, France.

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