New Jersey Passes Law to Require LGBTQ+-Inclusive Curriculum in Public Schools

Evan Hecht, Editor-in-Chief

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Common topics in American history courses often include major political movements such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Rights Movement. One group commonly overlooked in its fight for civil rights, however, is the LGBTQ+ community. After a long history of oppression, the LGBTQ+ community is commonly seen as one minority group left in the dust when it comes to a mainstream understanding of the rights that they deserve–until now.

The recently passed New Jersey state bill S1569 requires New Jersey public schools to “include instruction, and adopt instructional materials, that accurately portray political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.” This new addition to the curriculum will include learning about matters such as the Stonewall Riots, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Prop 8, Obergefell v. Hodges, and other LGBTQ+ related history.

The bill was a part of Governor Phil Murphy’s slew of LGBTQ+ related bills, such as protecting the rights of transgender individuals and expanding on genders allowed on a birth certificate.

New Jersey is now one of two states that requires LGBTQ+ rights in public school curricula. “It’s critical that our classrooms highlight the achievements of LGBTQ people throughout history,” said Christian Fuscarino, the New Jersey Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “Our youth deserve to see how diverse American history truly is—and how they can be a part of it one day, too. I’m thankful to Governor Murphy for making New Jersey the second state in the nation to have a law promoting LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum.”

Alongside these state guidelines, the College Board now requires LGBTQ+ civil rights to be included in the AP US Government and Politics exam.

The New Jersey law will go into effect for the 2020-21 school year. Despite progressive states such as California and New Jersey enacting legislation for it, according to Phi Delta Kappan, “at least seven states have laws prohibiting LGBTQ+-inclusive curriculum.” 

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