As of March 2017, California is the only state to teach LGBT+ history in public schools. To me this fact is horrific. I believe that LGBT+ history should be a standard in every American public school and here’s why.
It occurred to me while watching Dustin Lance Black’s new mini series ‘When We Rise‘ that I had learned more about the people who lead the gay rights movement in the first ten minutes of the show than I had in my ten years of public schooling. When I asked my friends about their experiences they had similar responses. This is an awful reality because it shows that we are letting the names of these incredible activists die. This is an injustice to them and we can not take advantage of the work they did.
They are the reason we have Marriage equality in all fifty states, the reason same sex couples can adopt in fifteen states, the reason twenty states have LGBT+ anti-discrimination laws and the reason suicide rates amongst LGBT+ teens have decreased in the last few years. They put their lives on the line and sacrificed everything just so those basic rights could exist for LGBT+ people. If you believe in equal rights I cannot see how you would not want to keep their names alive.
Remembering the LGBT+ people that came before us however is not nearly the only reason I believe we should be teaching LGBT+ history in public school. I believe by teaching LGBT+ history in school you can better the lives of today and tomorrows LGBT+ youth.
Most LGBT+ youth have reported feeling alone at times and the suicide attempt rate for LGB students is four times that of their straight peers and the attempt rates amongst transgender students is even higher. By teaching these kids about their history they would feel less alone which I believe could lower suicide rates significantly.
Imagine this you are fifteen years old and queer you come from a conservative family in the Mid West, you know no out queer people and the only times you’ve heard about other queer people have been in a negative light. Now imagine you walk into history class one day and see on the board that your going to learn about LGBT+ history. Imagine class progressing and seeing people like you and hearing about people that are just like you. Now imagine how much less alone you would feel.
In addition to all of this I believe most bullying over being different is done because of the bully not correctly educated on the difference.
Adults and children alike regularly say discriminatory things and take discriminatory actions against LGBT+ people. I think most of this hate comes from misconceptions and lies they have been taught about the LGBT+ community. This leads to LGBT+ students suffering through youth homelessness, conversion therapy, higher depression rates, etc. But if we educated people on the past of the LGBT+ community and show them the truth so many of these misconceptions would no longer exist. This would save lives of today and tomorrow which regardless of your beliefs on the matter you have to admit is a wonderful.
LGBT+ history should be standard in public education not only for the LGBT+ people of the past but the ones of today and Tomorrow.