New Jersey has just taken a major step forward in the fight for inclusiveness by becoming the second state in the country, after California, to require schools to teach LGBTQ history. The measure requires public schools to include lessons about the political, economic, and social contributions of gay and transgender individuals, as well as disabled persons, beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. Civil rights leaders believe the law will not only give students a more complete view of US history but also promote tolerance and acceptance within communities.
Jamie Brueshoff, who has a 12-year-old transgender child named Rebekah, openly supported the bill and said, “This bill is so important for our young people. 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.”
The law was based on a similar law that took effect in California in 2012 and does not apply to private schools, including religious-affiliated schools. Last September, New Jersey also provided special guidance to schools regarding the proper use of names and pronouns when referring to transgender students. In February, another law went into effect making it easier for transgender residents to change their gender on birth certificates.