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Duke Students Protest Having to Read “Pornographic” Fun Home

*Sighs herself into oblivion*

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Honestly, the only part of this story that surprises me is that Duke picked Fun Home as mandatory reading. Way to go, I guess, Duke?

The Daily Dot reports that the private North Carolina university has chosen Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home as its “Common Experience” book; incoming freshmen are expected to read the novel over the summer and come prepared to spend Orientation week discussing it.

The autobiographical book chronicles Bechdel’s relationship with her in-the-closet father, as well as her own experiences coming out as a lesbian. Fun Home was recently adapted into a Tony Award-winning musical of the same name.

According to Duke’s student newspaper The Chronicle, several students on the closed Facebook page for incoming freshmen have protested the choice of book.

Freshman Brian Grasso wrote in July that he would be boycotting Fun Home due to its “graphic visual depictions of sexuality […] I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it […] Duke did not seem to have people like me in mind. It was like Duke didn’t know we existed, which surprises me.” (“It’s almost as if ______ didn’t know we existed?” Congratulations! Now you know how media’s “straight as default” tendency makes LGBTQ+ people feel!)

Incoming student Jeffrey Wubbenhorst told The Chronicle via email that Fun Home‘s format makes the book’s themes even more offensive: “The nature of Fun Home means that content that I might have consented to read in print now violates my conscience due to its pornographic nature.”

When Fun Home was first announced as the Common Experience novel last June, Duke released a statement saying that it realized the novel might make some students uncomfortable:

We do understand that the novel may make some readers uncomfortable. It may create arguments and conversations, which are important to a liberal arts education.

This isn’t the first time Fun Home has been challenged; last year South Carolina cut the budget of two public colleges for having books with LGBTQ+ themes (including Fun Home) on their reading list. Earlier this summer, California’s Crafton Hills College ordered a professor to add a disclaimer to her fiction course syllabus after receiving complaints that her reading list (which included Fun Home) was too pornographic.

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