Call Ed: Education equality
The LGBTQ+ community is an established and significant group of people, yet a typical education often excludes any study of their history or contributions to society. As of 2019, four states have passed legislation requiring LGBTQ+ curriculum to be taught in public schools. While the issue is controversial, change must be made. 93% (73/79) of TKC staff believes LGBTQ+ curriculum should have a place in the classroom.
October 4, 2019
Overlooked, ignored, excluded. Imagine going through years of school and never learning about yourself. This is the reality for LGBTQ+ students throughout the United States. As an established community, LGBTQ+ studies deserve to be included for a non-discriminatory education.
On Aug. 9, Illinois passed legislation requiring that “in public schools only, the teaching of history shall include a study of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the history of this country.” The bill followed similar additions to state law in Calif., Colo. and N.J., which were each passed in the last decade and require integration of LGBTQ+ curriculum in public schools.
While this progress is notable, these four states are outnumbered by the six that currently prohibit schools from teaching about the LGBTQ+ community (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas). Alabama law states that “classes must emphasize, in a factual manner and from a health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public.” By prohibiting any high school education on the LGBTQ+ community, these states are attempting to shut out an entire societal group, leaving their students to either seek information from other potentially unreliable sources or live in ignorance. In today’s society, ignorance is unacceptable. Especially for newer generations, it can lead to a harmful lack of empathy for minorities.
People against this inclusive curriculum often point to the controversy of including a politically sensitive concept in public education. While inclusion of LGBTQ+ studies could lead to potential backlash or argument in the classroom, the benefits far outweigh the possible consequences. LGBTQ+ youth would be given an opportunity to see themselves represented in a positive, unbiased light maybe for the first time.
KHS does a decent job including LGBTQ+ curriculum, one example being AP US History (APUSH), where students are taught a brief history of the Stonewall Riots and AIDS epidemic. In the fast-paced context of APUSH it does make sense that the somewhat recent history is given barely a class period, but further education on LGBTQ+ studies such as a separate unit or class should be available. With additional education such as a minority studies class, students could focus on a broader history. This would include the often overlooked positive events within the community, and spend time studying current events as well.
The most significant need for inclusive curriculum at KHS right now is in LGBTQ+ sex-education. KHS, like a majority of schools worldwide, currently teaches limited inclusive sex-ed. While KHS provides relatively inclusive curriculum, we are still lacking in providing just as much information for students who identify as LGBTQ+ as those who do not. According to the National LGBT Health Education Center, a lack of reliable education for LGBTQ+ teens often leads to misinformation, stereotypes and sexually transmitted diseases. Sex-ed for all students promotes a healthy lifestyle while also providing positive examples of LGBTQ+ individuals.
Learning the history of their community, current events and safe sex-education would also be beneficial in ending discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals. According to the National LGBT Health Education Center, these individuals are subject to health disadvantages and are typically at a higher risk for depression and anxiety, and education could help to decrease the inequities. For students who do not identify as LGBTQ+, the knowledge is just as important. Exposure to minorities and people unlike themselves is essential for any student, and LGBTQ+ curriculum can help equalize the community while also promoting inclusion and respect for others.
The LGBTQ+ community is an integral part of American society and should be included in the classroom just as several other minority groups are. Schools must learn to forget political bias in favor of inclusion. In a world made up of so many different individuals and ideas, acceptance should no longer be a choice.