New Jersey is 2nd US state to teach LGBTQ history
New Jersey has adopted a law requiring public schools to teach about LGBTQ history, becoming the second state in the US following California in 2017.
What’s more, the law also requires teaching about the contributions to history of people who are disabled. However, this law, which was modeled on the California law, doesn’t apply to private schools.
Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, who originally sponsored the bill, said: “We often see in classrooms across the country the bullying of LGBT students, and this is a way they can incorporate into the curriculum that there are gay Americans that have made vast contributions to this nation.”
“This is a way of encouraging students who feel that they’re outcasts that they too can make a contribution to American society,” Gusciora, who was one of two openly gay members of the legislature, told CNN.
LGBTQ history in classrooms
The bill was signed into law by Democrat Governor Phil Murphy, who had backed LGBTQ equality for during his campaign.
In a statement released by his office, it said: “The Governor believes that ensuring students learn about diverse histories will help build more tolerant communities and strengthen educational outcomes.”
Likewise, Murphy said in a tweet: “LGBTQ+ history is part of our shared story, and students deserve to know it.”
“Proud to sign a bill that makes New Jersey the second state in the nation to require an LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum in our schools,” he added.
Under this law, public schools have to include lessons about the political, economic, and social contributions of the LGBTQ community beginning the school year 2020-2021.
While each board of educators would have to put the procedures on how teach this, teachers and schools will have enough time to prepare materials for their students.
LGBTQ groups back move on LGBTQ history
Civil rights and advocacy groups lauded the move as it would give students a broader view of US history while also making it inclusive.
“Our youth deserve to see how diverse American history truly is– and how they can be a part of it one day, too,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director of the advocacy group Garden State Equality.
Fuscarino added that: “Young people are learning about LGBT people already in schools but their identities are hidden.”
Meanwhile, Kathryn Dixon, Northern New Jersey policy coordinator for Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), said the law “fosters respect and connectivity and develops a culture and climate where everyone feels safe.”
Dixon further said that these school lessons won’t be just about the history of the gay rights movement, but about everyday examples of LGBTQ individuals and families across all subjects.
Jaime Bruesehoff of Vernon, whose 12-year-old transgender child Rebekah spoke in support of the bill in Trenton, said the children “need to see examples of themselves in the history being taught and in classes they are going to each day. We know representation matters.”