Should LGBTQ+ studies be a part of the curriculum?
This is the question that we explored as a group, and based on the statistical evidence gathered, the points for and against the question, and my own personal beliefs and experiences, I think that the answer is yes. We should absolutely be including LGBTQ+ studies in the curriculum, but it should also be taken a step further, toward inclusivity in every subject.
I believe this because while specifically having LGBTQ+ studies as a portion of the curriculum is vital towards educating all students on aspects of gender identity and sexual orientation, LGBTQ+ students exist beyond one unit in one class. This is where LGBTQ+ inclusive education comes in when talking about other subject areas. It does not have to be a huge and complicated unit in every subject area, either. As a teacher, doing something as simple as introducing yourself at the beginning of the year with your name and pronouns can have an enormous impact on any LGBTQ+ students in your classroom.
The topic of whether or not LGBTQ+ studies should be included in the curriculum is a controversial topic of debate among many parents who believe that including LGBTQ+ studies is an attempt to “turn children gay”. This is clearly a false argument used to feebly disguise bigotry and spread fear. But the side arguing for the inclusion of LGBTQ+ studies focusses on the safety and success of the students, not the personal comfort of the parents.
Many studies show that having all students educated on LGBTQ+ topics decreases the rate of bullying motivated by sexuality or gender identity, makes LGBTQ+ students feel safer at school, decreases the amount of school missed, and generally increases the academic success of LGBTQ+ students. Because of the higher rates of mental illness in LGBTQ+ teenagers, it is of the utmost importance to include any curriculum or school organizations that will increase their support network and lead to a more positive school environment.
If the main debate is between the safety of students and the opinions of parents, I think that these parents do not deserve to have a voice in whether or not LGBTQ+ studies belong in the curriculum. Student safety, emotional wellbeing, and general success should always take precedence over opinions that will directly harm these students if taken into account.
My personal experiences also colour my opinion on whether or not LGBTQ+ studies should be included in the curriculum. When I was in high school, we received no positive information about the LGBTQ+ community, and it negatively impacted the mental health of me and many of my friends and peers. This has given me a firm belief that not including LGBTQ+ studies in the curriculum in a positive and accurate light is not only taking away from students’ educations, but also directly harming queer students.
Since it is the responsibility of schools to provide a safe environment for all students, schools that fail to incorporate LGBTQ+ studies into the curriculum are failing to protect the approximately 10% of students in their schools that identify as LGBTQ+, not to mention additional students that will come to an understanding of their sexual orientation or gender identity after leaving high school.