A New Jersey law requiring that public schools teach LGBT history isn’t set to go into effect until this fall, but several schools across the state are already participating in a pilot program.
Twelve schools, including those in Hackensack, Newark and Asbury Park, began teaching LGBT history this month as part of a pilot program for new LGBT-focused curriculum, NorthJersey.com reported.
The new law, signed last year by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, requires public schools to teach students about the “political, economic, and social contributions” of “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people” and persons with disabilities. It applies to middle school and high school students and must be taught in all public schools beginning in the 2020-21 school year.
LGBT groups championed the new law, which made New Jersey the second state – after California – to require the teaching of gay history. (Illinois recently became the third.)
“We want students to see themselves in the stories that are told,” Ashley Chiappano, safe schools and community education manager for Garden State Equality, told NorthJersey.com. “We want to make sure they are getting accurate, appropriate and historically relevant information about the community and the strides that have been made.”
The law’s intent, supporters told the website, is for LGBT curriculum to be woven into multiple subjects. Examples of the lessons include gay victims of the Holocaust and a discussion “about the memoir of a boy forced into gay ‘conversion therapy,’” NorthJersey.com reported.
Christian and social conservative groups, though, say the new law treads on parental rights. The Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey launched a petition to urge the governor and legislature to allow parents to opt their children out of the curriculum.
“Parents should know that the scope of these changes affects every subject in school, and it takes away their right to opt their children out of the questionable instruction,” the Family Policy Alliance says on its website. “In many ways, this instruction will directly challenge Biblical teaching on homosexuality and what parents choose to teach children at home.”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
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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.