Pride in Progress

Governor J.B. Pritzker signs the Inclusive Curriculum Law, mandating the teaching of students historical contributions by all.

Pride in Progress

On August 9th, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Inclusive Curriculum Law, which will require all public schools in Illinois to teach students about historical contributions from Hispanic and LGBTQ+ people. Effective Jan. 1, 2020, the law will also require a thorough historical education regarding the deportation of Hispanic people during the Great Depression. 

This law has ignited debate and discontent specifically amongst conservative individuals due to religious beliefs. Whether you love them or hate them, LGBTQ+ and Hispanic people exist. They deserve to be recognized for their roles in historical events in the same manner that any other group of people would be. 

The erasure of important information in public schools about these groups of people appears as a passive aggressive form of homophobia. American society’s general obsession to cleanse every potential negative attribute of historical figures continues to plague every public school in the United States, even in 2019. My only concern is that the teaching of LGBTQ+ history may not include LGBTQ+ minorities such as people of color or disabled individuals. Even LGBTQ+ people may not know that much of the LGBTQ+ movement can be attributed to a Black, transgender woman named Marsha P. Johnson. If students understand LGBTQ+ people of color, negative views on people of color overall may change. 

Many LGBTQ+ students see little to no representation of themselves during their first 12 or 13 years of schooling. Representation is the most important thing for a child navigating his/her way through a society that is much harsher on individuals that don’t match a standard gender and sexuality. 

Since the Human Rights Campaign reports 80 percent of LGBTQ+ youth as high school age, it only makes sense to represent their existence in an education based environment. 

 This avoidance regarding LGBTQ+ topics stretches even to the point that schools lack acknowledgement of LGBTQ+ existence, and tend to only teach lessons on violence between different groups of white people. For example, in AP World History, the curriculum recently changed to begin during 1200 C.E instead of 8000 B.C.E, around the time that Europeans began dominating around the world. This leaves lots of history regarding Natives in other countries and in America untouched and left out. This is censorship of information regarding different races and different cultures that the Inclusive Curriculum Law will work to undo.

If LGBTQ+ children saw more representation during younger school aged years, they may not spend years potentially internalizing homophobia or racism. 

The new law promotes tolerance between multiple groups of people as well. If students are taught about Hispanic and LGBTQ+ people, they will hopefully become more likely to accept people in those same minorities outside of the classroom.

Many students have already shown their support for the Inclusive Curriculum Law.

“When you open the discussion about the impacts of homophobia, the result is an increased tolerance to the LGBT[Q+] community at school,” an anonymous source said. “Also it will help queer kids be kinder to themselves.”

According to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, almost 90 percent of LGBTQ+ individuals hear anti-gay slurs on a daily basis. Even within what is considered to be the most accepting generation, homophobia is a much more common occurrence due to the publicity of the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. Many solutions may require simply teaching kids about people in situations that differ from their own that promote the progress and prowess of like LGBTQ+ people. 

In the same regard, the reason many LGBTQ+ individuals have to fight for their right to exist in American culture is because their oppressors are often not educated. Education is the only non-violent way to fight ignorance. When students aren’t aware of LGBTQ+ existence, they have no basis for understanding and acceptance. The unknown is, in the case of homophobia, met with backlash and rejection before some people can learn about true facts regarding the issue so that one can make an informed decision.

This lack of exposure for the LGBTQ+ community can lead to hate crimes based on simple emotions and misinformation which is detrimental to all.  If students are educated with facts and given the tools to maturely analyze the information given to them, they will benefit from the representation of LGBTQ+ in history. 

Representation also helps anyone who hasn’t come out or is questioning who they are,” RMHS HERO club leader and senior Jessica Soto said. “It helps eliminate the feeling of being outcasted. It lets those questioning know that it’s okay, and there is a whole community for them.” 

It’s time to spark a change and give a voice to LGBTQ+ and Hispanic people within public schools with the Inclusive Curriculum Law.