High school students in Maryland’s largest school district soon will have a new elective option: LGBTQ+ studies.
The Montgomery County Public Schools board approved a plan Tuesday to develop a “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) Studies pilot course” that will be offered at two high schools in the 2020-21 school year and the remaining eight high schools during the 2021-22 school year.
WTOP in Washington, D.C., reported the LGBTQ+ course is believed to be the first in the region and one of the first in the nation.
“It’s been a long time coming and I believe it will open a lot of minds,” board member Rebecca Smondrowski said, according to WTOP.
The class will be for juniors and seniors who have completed U.S. history.
The course description and purpose/rationale passed by board members says the goal is “to increase the awareness of students to the history, culture, and challenges of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) community in America.”
“The LGBTQ+ community faces enduring discrimination that has resulted in a rise in hate crimes against them, higher rates of depression, suicide, and addictive drug use,” the document approved by the board reads. “The course aims to bring acceptance, support, and a stronger sense of shared community among our students of all sexual and gender identities.”
The class is designed for “students who identify as LGBTQ+ and for those who do not.” The class is, the document says, “an interdisciplinary exploration of LGBTQ+ identity, history, and culture.” Further, students “will examine the factors that shape identity, with a focus on intersectionality.”
“For students who identify as LGBTQ+, this course will empower them as they learn about their shared history, culture, and contributions,” the document says. “For students who do not identify as LGBTQ+, this course will increase understanding and acceptance of their peers and others in this community.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.