Whenever there is a debate about implementing new material in to the school curriculum, I believe that there should be an investigation in to whether the material is relevant to the lives of the students, will the material be helpful or harmful to the students, and what will it take in terms of training etc. to implement the material.
Absolutely this is relevant to our students. For something to be irrelevant, it would mean that our students are never exposed to the concept in their daily lives or will never be exposed in the future. But the truth is that our students are living in a world where LGBTQ+ is all around them, and some are even living in the LGBTQ+ world for themselves! It would be ignorant to state that, with almost a tenth of Canada’s population identifying under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, LGBTQ+ studies are irrelevant to be teaching. In addition, telling a student that identifies under the umbrella, or has parents, or family, or friends that identify under the umbrella, in my opinion would be denying that student the acknowledgement that bullying and hate that the student experiences is because they are a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Bullies target their peers that identify as LGBTQ+ because they believe that they are different, that they deviate form the norm of society. But if LGBTQ+ is introduced in to the curriculum, it becomes part of the norm. Studies have shown that education about LGBTQ+ reduces homophobic and transphobic bullying, and these students also felt safer in their schools when policies explicitly addressed homophobic and transphobic bullying. In addition, mental health issues have been shown to decrease in students a part of the LGBTQ+ community when gay-straight alliances are in their schools.
Obviously implementing this material in to the curriculum would help students identifying in the LGBTQ+ community feel safer and more welcome in their societies, but there are some people that argue forcing this material to be taught to some students is not ethical. For example, there are some religions that look down upon the LGBTQ+ community and in some countries there are laws that make homosexual acts, for example, illegal. The question then becomes, is it ethical to force students of certain religions to learn about that which they believe to be immoral?
The final consideration for the implementation of this material is the terms that need to be met in order to implement into the curriculum. The implementation of LGBTQ+ studies in to the curriculum may require teachers to complete training, which costs both money and time. However, that is part of the job of being a teacher. There will always be new rules or curriculum changes and some may even require training. Teachers are required to complete safety training, so why would training on LGBTQ+ curriculum be any different?
To conclude, after considering all of the factors that are involved in implementing LGBTQ+ into the curriculum, I believe that students come first and that there are more pros for the implantation of this material in to the curriculum with respect to mental health, bullying, and sense of safety, than there are cons.
LGBTQ+ should be immediately incorporated in to the curriculum, it is time to realize what era we are living in and recognize that our societal norms have changed!