Queering the English Classroom: could Year 9 students’ learning about Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice be enriched by studying its LGBTQIA+ themes?
Heteronormativity is commonplace in schools, highlighted by the 2019 protests concerning LGBTQIA+ education at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham and the prevailing pathologizing narratives disseminated by LGBTQIA+ charities. This study explores how heteronormativity could be challenged in the English classroom and whether this process could improve indicators of attainment in the subject of English as well as pupils’ knowledge of LGBTQIA+ topics and issues. The investigation was undertaken with Year 9 students from a state-maintained, non-selective, all girls secondary school. Findings suggest that English as a subject, particularly the works of Shakespeare, offer an excellent opportunity to challenge heteronormativity in the classroom.