New Jersey just became the second state in the country to require that LGBTQ history is acknowledged and taught in K-12 schools.
The bill, which will go into effect next year, also requires that history lessons contain information about historical figures with disabilities. Only California has a similar law, which requires that public schools in the state teach about the historical impact of LGBTQ people and people with disabilities. New Jersey’s governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, signed the bill into law last week. Murphy ran on a campaign of LGBTQ equality and has already signed a law allowing gender-neutral birth certificates to be issued in the state. Of course, the law faced predictable backlash, with some in the state saying that the new law infringes on parents’ rights.
Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, told NorthJersey.com, “We believe it further erodes the right of parents to discuss this sensitive issue with their children, if in fact schools are going to be promoting and making the claim that this particular person was an LGBTQ member.”
The fact is, however, that teaching LGBTQ history can have a positive effect on LGBTQ students, who still face high rates of bullying.
“This bill is so important for our young people,” Jaime Bruesehoff, the parent of a 12-year-old transgender child, told USA today, “They need to see examples of themselves in the history being taught and in classes they are going to each day. We know representation matters. By learning about LGBTQ people who have made amazing contributions to their country, they are seeing possibilities for themselves and hope for the future.”
“Our youth deserve to see how diverse American history truly is—and how they can be a part of it one day too,” Christian Fuscarino, executive director of the advocacy group Garden State Equality, said in a statement about the new law.
The new law is scheduled to go into effect next year, creating a more inclusive, inspiring educational environment for young LGBTQ people in New Jersey.