N.J. schools will finally teach about LGBTQ history. Here’s what kids would learn.Historians in the News
tags: education, historians, New Jersey, LGBTQ history
When New Jersey schools begin teaching students about LGBTQ history, it will be easy enough to say “Walt Whitman was a great poet, who, by the way, also happened to be gay.”
But that’s not the point of a new state law, and the stakes are so much higher than a token reference, historians and advocates say. If done right, New Jersey will help set the national agenda for teaching kids about gender and sexuality throughout history and across all subjects, exposing students to a past that’s largely been ignored.
“This isn’t about rainbow pompoms and cheering for gay people throughout history,” said Don Romesburg, a Sonoma State University professor of women’s and gender studies who helped guide California’s first-in-the-nation inclusive curriculum. “It’s about teaching how systems of gender and sexuality change over time and how people respond to that.”
Former state lawmaker Reed Gusciora helped pass the law that assures the “lavender” chapters of history will finally be told, making New Jersey the second state to mandate an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum. It requires schools teach middle- and high-schoolers about the political, economic, and social contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, starting in 2020-21,