LGBTQ+: In The Classroom

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Photo courtesy of advancementcourses.com

The year is 2021, and Scotland made history as the first-ever country to make LGBTQ+ curriculum mandatory in their public schools. So what is stopping America?

In the United States, there has been a hot debate about what should be taught in schools regarding LGBTQ+ topics. Should, for example, schools be teaching the Stonewall riots in a unit like they´re teaching the revolutionary war? Should Rainbow Rowell’s “Carry On ” be mandatory reading in ELA classes? Parents, teachers, and students all have different opinions, and these opinions matter when trying to integrate LGBTQ+ curriculum into the classroom. 

In 2011, the United States government conducted a survey of 8,584 LGBTQ+ students whose ages ranged from 13 to 20. The survey was taken in 3,224 different school districts and found that 85% of students reported hearing “gay” used in a negative context inside the school building. 

Would educating students on LGBTQ+ topics change the way they use that word? “Yes, I think education would help.” Melissa Davenport, a 6th-grade social studies teacher at Lincoln Roosevelt School in New Jersey, says. 

Students who are a part of the LGBTQ+community are more likely to drop out of school, according to the survey above. This is because of the negative conditions, whether that be from harassment or other issues, that LGBTQ+ students face in schools. By teaching the topics, could we prevent students from feeling out of place?

Students also believe by learning LGBTQ+ curriculum in the classroom, all students would feel more included. A student at Roxbury High School said quote, ¨I think us learning it in a history class, and not from social media would make students feel more included.¨

When asked if she would be able to include LGBTQ+ topics in the classroom, Ms. Davenport said the following: “With the right training and resources I’m sure there would be a way to include it into the lessons.¨ Though finding ways to bring LGBTQ+ curriculum  into other classes besides history and english may prove to be more difficult. 

How do you include people part of the LGBTQ community in y=mx+b? Fractions? Integers? Bringing LGBTQ+ topics into a math or science class will prove itself more difficult than bringing the conversations up in humanities classes. Though it’s pretty much impossible to bring it into every lesson, hopefully, there is still a way to bring it into some. 

“I think History and Language Arts teachers could include it. I don’t think math teachers or science teachers really could, though” a student who attends Roxbury High School says. Many other students agree. 

“I think we can incorporate somehow, I mean I would have to do some research, or get some resources, but I think somehow we could” Stephanie Mauro, a math teacher at Eisenhower Middle School says. “Whether that be through famous math mathematicians or a word problem.¨ 

However, one major factor plays into getting this education into our school systems: parents. Many parents believe that, as the guardians of their children, they should get a say in what is being taught at schools. 

“I think it would be good for all students to learn about it. It’s an important topic,” says Michelle Caron, a parent of two daughters who attend Roxbury Schools. But would all parents feel the same way? Most likely not. 

If we got it into our school curriculums now, would it prevent a lot of homophobia in future generations? “I believe if we started educating students on the topics now, by the time they are older it’ll be normalized in everyday life, and I think that would prevent a lot of homophobia in the future generations,” Caron says. 

When asked if LGBTQ+ curriculum in schools will ever be normalized, the same answer came through every time. A very hopeful “Yes.¨ Though the journey to get there will be tough, hopefully, one day we will have every student in America educated on the LGBTQ+ community. 

Works Cited: 

Foran, Ruth, and Ruth ForanEnglish Literature with Creative Writing graduate.For enquiries: [email protected] “Scotland: First Country in the World to Include LGBT Education.” The Organization for World Peace, 8 July 2020, theowp.org/scotland-first-country-in-the-world-to-include-lgbt-education/.

Waxman, Olivia B. “As More Schools Teach LGBTQ History, Teacher Resources Grow.” Time, Time, 13 Dec. 2019, time.com/5747670/lgbtq-history-resources/.

“Schools.” Schools | Youth.gov, youth.gov/youth-topics/lgbtq-youth/school-experiences.

Ferfolja, Tania and Jacqueline Ullman ¨The Elephant in the (Class)Room: Parental Perceptions of LGBTQ-inclusivity in K-12 Educational Contexts¨ https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1124594.pdf