Over the past several weeks, New Jersey has begun implementing a long overdue and much needed piece of curriculum that requires school districts to include LGBTQ history in its curriculum. This will ensure that LGBTQ individuals are included and recognized for their historic contributions to our economic, political, and social development.
Dishearteningly, a number of people in our own backyard have recently attended Board of Education meetings in Jersey City and Bayonne to voice their objection to this curriculum. Much of the rhetoric that came from this meeting unfortunately reflects the all too familiar message the LGBTQ community faces regularly: conform, stay silent, and keep it private.
We at the Hudson County Democratic Organization’s LGBTQ Caucus find these comments to be alarming, to say the least. As an organization, we would like to reiterate the importance and significance of instituting an inclusive curriculum like this into all schools.
No discussion of the Allied victory in World War II is complete without the inclusion of Alan Turing. No discussion of the Civil Rights Movement is complete without the inclusion of the Stonewall uprising. The list goes on. The complaints launched against this inclusive curriculum are especially glaring during Black History Month where we celebrate and honor the contributions of LGBTQ individuals of color: Marsha P. Johnson and Silvia Rivera, Josephine Baker, Langston Hughes and James Baldwin. Omitting LGBTQ people from history books is historically inaccurate and diminishes the progress we have made in celebrating and promoting equality in our community.
When young children sit in their classrooms, they are often looking for a reflection of themselves in the lessons they are hearing. For LGBTQ youth who have not yet come out of the closet, seeing LGBTQ figures reflected in the classroom is critical to their development and helps foster a sense of acceptance. Telling the whole story is important and educators have a responsibility to present a complete historical text to their students — and that includes LGBTQ history.
New Jersey is on the right side of history by promoting a progressive and inclusive curriculum such as this. All we are asking for is that the historic achievements and contributions of the LGBTQ community be reflected in the public education curriculum. The Hudson County Democratic Organization LGBTQ Caucus implores those questioning this inclusive curriculum to consider the place of LGBTQ individuals in history and the positive impact these lessons will have to our youth.
We encourage anyone who wishes to continue this conversation to join the LGBTQ Caucus. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hudson County Democratic Organization’s LGBTQ Caucus