Imagine that phone call, in which you as parent have to tell your child’s brand-new counselor they’re three years behind the curve.
Now imagine guiding that same kiddo through Of Mice and Men, wherein the intellectually disabled Character, prone to violent outbursts, is put out of his misery with a bullet in the back of his head, fired by his guardian. Or To Kill a Mockingbird, featuring the “not right” Boo Radley spending his adult years under family-imposed house arrest. Next up, Romeo and Juliet, the story of obsessive teenage lovers kept apart, wherein one character decides faking suicide and running away from home are her best options, and the other character kills himself in despair.
Is this canon really the best we can do? If the literary characters with mental health issues students read about are always marked for confinement or death, then we’re not moving the ball on diversity, acceptance, or even opening pathways to conversation.
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