On Feb. 26, Jenna Portnoy, in the Washington Post, asks, “In Virginia classrooms, should parents block sexually explicit literature for their kids” Virginia’s General Assembly contemplates the first law in the nation to give parents the right to block books with explicit content. In fact, the rules would require schools to notify parents in writing about sexually explicit literature to be offered in the humanities curricula.
But the concern is that major works Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” or “The Bluest Eye”, Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man”, and particularly Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” would become unusable in English classes. Classics like Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” could be seen as forums for underage sex and suicide. Most of the passages of concern are heterosexual. But Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” and “Macbeth” (and “Hamlet”) have plenty of violence. Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” has a putatively homosexual celebrant (The Pardoner).
When I worked as a sub, I do recall an English teacher’s explaining the age issues in “Romeo and Juliet” to a ninth grade class. In older societies, girls could marry earlier than today.