New Jersey Joins a Growing Club: Public Schools Are Testing Its Pilot Program to Teach Middle Schoolers Gay and Transgender History

 

 

In New Jersey, teachers are trying out a new curriculum that brings gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender history to the forefront.

As reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer, the change comes courtesy of a law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy last year requiring all public schools to include LGBT lessons in middle school and above.

That puts New Jersey squarely in the club with Colorado, Illinois, and the one you already know of — California.

While it’s currently a pilot program, the NJ law goes into effect in the 2020-21 academic year.

As stated by the report, kids may be schooled about the “thousands of gay men put in Nazi concentration camps and forced to wear pink triangles or about other significant moments in the gay rights movement.”

The TPI piece spotlights student Olivia Loesch, who came out as a lesbian in 7th grade.

Now a sophomore at Haddon Heights High, she identifies as “gender-queer.”

A little more on that concept from Vice.com:

“To me, ‘genderqueer’ represents a queering of gender, so to speak,” said Laura A. Jacobs, a psychotherapist who specializes in trans and gender non-binary issues, LGBTQ issues, and other forms of gender and sexual diversity. “It’s a deliberate playing with gender in a very political sense, and being provocative around gender norms to highlight the gender stereotypes of our culture. It is also how I identify.”

Cyrus Cohen, who lives in New York City and identifies as non-binary, considers their identity to be a form of genderqueerness. “I define ‘genderqueer’ as an umbrella term that just means ‘not cisgender,’” they said.

But (19-year-old New Jersey college student) Rui sees it differently: “I don’t use the term ‘genderqueer’ because, to me, that implies more of an oscillation between genders.”

Haddon’s one of the schools giving the new knowledge a shot, and Olivia’s pleased as punch that people are gonna find out about her:

“I never knew about [the Holocaust/pink triangle situation]. I feel that the topic should be talked about and people should know about me.”

The group behind the new program is advocacy group Garden State Equality, and their spokesperson — Jon Oliveria — praised the correction to the old ways of schoolin’ younguns:

“LGBT history is part of American history. To tell our students anything other than that would be fictional. There’s so much information to be consumed in the classroom.”

Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey isn’t nearly as excited.

In October, the group started a petition against the law, and it’s garnered over 7,000 John Hancocks so far.

Here’s Shawn Hyland, the FPANJ’s director, speaking to The Daily Caller:

“This curriculum violates and conflicts with the religious and moral beliefs of millions of New Jerseyeans regarding human sexuality.”

Shawn said the lessons are being created, not by academics, but by “the most powerful LGBT advocacy group in the state.”

According to him, accuracy could suffer. And if he’s right, boy is he right:

“The original bill language from February 2018, stated students must be taught an accurate portrayal of historical contributions of LGBT individuals in social studies. The final bill language in December 2018, and that was signed into law by Governor Murphy in Feb 2019, removed the requirement of accuracy and instead asserted students must be taught a positive view of the LGBT community, regardless of the facts.”

Odd choice for educational legislation.

To Shawn, it’s a square peg in a round hole:

“The public school classroom is no place for the indoctrination of sexual ideology.”

The educational system is certainly evolving.

I remember when school was bone dry — you learned how to count, what an atom consisted of, the broadest strokes of history, and how to read and write.

The above issue aside, in my opinion, we’d do well to return to the basics. As you may have noticed by posts on social media or your kids’ text messages, I’d say the system ain’t crankin’ ’em out like they used to.

That makes me sound like an old crank, but so far as I know, I’m not.

-ALEX

 

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