Teach students about LGBTQ+ topics

Curriculum in schools should be updated to be more LGBTQ+ inclusive and representative to promote a comfortable and safe environment for all students.


Addison Delgado

Inclusivity matters: GSA network reports that 67% of students feel unsafe in their school environment without LGBTQ+ curriculum, compared to the 43% of students with. California was among the first states that implemented mandatory LGBTQ+ curriculum, after the FAIR Education Act was passed in 2011. “I think that we need LGBTQ+ school curriculums because there’s so many uneducated people in the world who don’t know what it is,” sophomore Rory Berger said.

LGBTQ+ students in school are under pressure and stress following Florida’s newest “Don’t Say Gay” bill, or new anti-transgender legislation in Texas, LGBTQ+ teens are being constantly targeted by state government and can’t seem to catch a break.

Representation in television in movies is also only slowly increasing, with companies like Disney only including LGBTQ+ characters in the background of popular movies to pass as being “inclusive.” Or popular companies hopping on the train of “rainbow capitalism,” profiting off of pride merchandise to appeal as being “inclusive,” whether or not they’re actually in support of the LGBTQ+ community.

Curriculum in schools also has its own shortcomings in being inclusive for students. As of June of 2020, New America reports that, shockingly, only six states require LGBTQ+ curriculum, California being the first, along with New Jersey, Colorado, Oregon, Illinois, and Nevada.

Map of states that now require inclusive curriculum in schools: California, New Jersey, Colorado, Oregon, Illinois, and most recently, Nevada. (Graphic created by Addison Delgado )

Some states are even taking steps towards restricting LGBTQ+ curriculum, like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay,” bill, prohibitng inclusive discussions for grades K-3, and limiting curriculum for later grades. Louisiana, Tennessee, Arizona are also hopping on the bandwagon and taking on different variations of this.

Limiting discussion around LGBTQ+ topics only increases stigmatization around the subject and hurts students, plus their feeling of safety and inclusion in school. If students aren’t represented, that sends a negative message about whether or not LGBTQ+ issues are worth mentioning.

“Me personally, I had to learn from the internet, and I had to learn from my friends, and I had to learn from people telling me ‘homos are weird!” said sophomore Rory Berger. “..Another thing is that we’re not only not teaching students what it is, but we’re also not teaching teachers what it is.”

And as students explore their gender and sexual identity, they need reliable resources from schools, teachers equipped to teach LGBTQ curriculum, and curriculum designed to help students with their self-identities.

Not teaching LGBTQ+ subjects only leads to ignorance, and the failure to provide students also provides the groundwork for disrespect.

“It’d be really cool to learn more about queer history, because it has affected. And I’ve never really learned about it at school, at least. And there’s definitely people who need to learn about it,” sophomore Anika Hart said “And so I think that introducing it to classrooms would be really useful to combat homophobia in schools, and also in general because we’re going to grow up and people will apply it to real life.”

Not only should LGBTQ+ curriculum cover history or solely sex-ed, but also address pressing issues like anti-gay bullying in schools.

GSA network, (gay-straight alliance), posted a study in which “67% of students in schools without LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation,” and only 43% of students felt safe in their schools with inclusive curriculum. In 2021 alone, the CDC also revealed that 46.8% of teenagers who identiy as LGBTQ+ considered suicide.

Or health curriculum could also cover different identities and what they mean, for example: what being non-binary is, what being asexual is, etc. etc, to diversify student coverage and representation.

Arguments against LGBTQ curriculum stem from parent concerns often rooted in homophobia, or wishes to have more control over curriculum for their students. However, curriculum for every subject in grades 6-12 already follow pre-set guidelines and standards, plus have core ideas for lessons for students.

For health class curriculum, Washington standards include:

“Students will demonstrate the ability to access valid information and products and services to enhance health.”
“Students will demonstrate the ability to advocate for personal, family, and community health.”
“Students will analyze the influence of family, peers, culture, media, technology, and other factors on health behaviors.”

LGBTQ+ curriculum would supplement where learning falls short of being inclusive, also to assure both parents and teachers that lessons are appropriate for students. Curriculum needs mirrors for students to see themselves, and windows to look through to learn about the LGBTQ community and its history.

Most students won’t use chemical formulas, calculus, or what they learned in history, but LGBTQ education is pertinent to today.

Increasing discussion around the LGBTQ community breaks down homophobic stereotypes and stigmatization around exploring gender and sexual identity; it shouldn’t instill more hateful fuel and shame for teens struggling with their self-discovery.