Teaching LGBTQ History creates safer schools and a full understanding of important issues facing our society today.
1.) Including LGBTQ information in classes creates a safer environment for LGBTQ kids. Research in High Schools has shown that including LGBTQ material in classes decreases bullying by 15%. (See “LGBT Issues in Curriculum Promotes School Safety”)
School safety impacts students’ academic performance, psychological health, and physical safety. This is not just for kids who identify as LGBTQ – it is for kids who are perceived to be GLBTQ by other students. The studies also show that including LGBTQ issues in school curricula make the climate of our schools safer for all students.
2.) LGBTQ issues are now a major part of US culture and politics. Gay Marriage was a wedge issue in the 2004 election, 48 Million Dollars was spent in the campaigns for and against Prop 8, and last year’s Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage was one of the most watched cases this year. The issue is not going away. Understanding the correct historical record is important for all US citizens.
3.) Right now, we are teaching core historical issues with incomplete information. For example:
a.) We should not teach about the Suffrage Movement in the US without including the critical role of leaders who were lesbian. Their sexuality is not a side fact — it was their sexuality, the fact that they were not under the legal and economic control of men, that gave them the freedom to act as political organizers.
b.) The Christian Church tolerated and sometimes protected homosexuality for its first 1000 years. Leaving this information out of our history classes distorts kids understanding of history.
4.) LGBTQ history is relevant to all kids. These days, all kids are immersed in media full of images and discussions about homosexuality and gender through pop culture, the news, and on You Tube. We will provide them with accurate historical information and cultural frameworks to understand the issues in mature ways.
5.) LGBTQ history should be added to our classes in relevant lessons. We agree that this information should not just be tacked on to other lessons in ways that do not matter to our teaching goals. Poor teaching is poor teaching, whatever the content. This information should be integrated into our current curriculum – when we are teaching about China, include the fact that China had a 1700 year tradition of gay male literature. When we are teaching about the Suffrage movement, we include the facts about lesbian leadership. Students should analyze and think critically about the facts, see the trends in history, and understand how it connects to their lives today.
6.) It’s the law. The FAIR Education Act – SB48- mandates that all California public schools must include positive images of gay, lesbian and transgender people in their social studies classes from Kindergarten through 12th grade.
In sum, the issue here is teaching history that matters to the kids today. Deciding not to teach it is to actively ignore a major cultural issue and to decrease the safety of our kids.