As of July 1, 2020, Illinois will join California, Colorado, and New Jersey as the fourth state to mandate that LGBTQ+ history be taught in public schools. This is a historic step forward in improving representation for LGBTQ+ groups.
The inclusion of the contributions and roles of LGBTQ+ people into the public school curriculum can have a positive impact on students. According to the GSA Network, students in schools with an inclusive curriculum hear fewer anti-LGBTQ+ remarks and negative comments about gender expression than students in schools without an inclusive curriculum. Additionally, GLSEN research shows that students who attend schools with inclusive curricula have improved academic outcomes.
LGBTQ+ visibility is important to truly promoting diversity and inclusion in the classroom. With the right resources, you can develop an inclusive and affirming curriculum for all of your students. Following are five tips for supporting an LGBTQ+-inclusive curriculum.
1. Teach LGBTQ+-Inclusive American History
Teaching about historical events and leaders directly related to the advancement of LGTBQ+ is important. To help spark discussions in your classroom, BrainPOP offers movies on topics including Pride 2020 and Harvey Milk. But beyond learning about events and contributors to the LGBTQ+ movement specifically, you can also explore with students how gay rights and identity are related to historical movements.
When teaching about the Cold War and McCarthyism, for example, include a lesson on the Lavender Scare and its implications on being LGBTQ+ in the government and in the larger public culture. Or, teach landmark cases, such as Loving v. Virginia and Obergefell v. Hodges, as a way to compare and contrast the journey to marriage legalization for same-sex and interracial groups.
2. Use Holidays to Highlight Cultural Contributions and LGBTQ+ Heroes
Mark LGBTQ+ holidays and awareness days on the class calendar to serve as a platform for ongoing class discussions that support LGBTQ+ visibility. Notable U.S. and international LGBTQ+ holidays and awareness dates include:
|February 7||National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day|
|First full week after February 14||Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week|
|March 31||International Transgender Day of Visibility|
|April 17||GLSEN Day of Silence|
|April 26||Lesbian Visibility Day|
|May 17||International Day Against Homophobia|
|May 22||Harvey Milk Day|
|June||LGBT Pride Month|
|June 12||Pulse Night of Remembrance|
|June 28||Stonewall Riots Anniversary|
|July 16||International Drag Day|
|September 23||Celebrate Bisexuality Day|
|October||LGBT History Month|
|October 11||National Coming Out Day|
|October 17||International Pronouns Day|
|Third Thursday in October||GLAAD Spirit Day|
|Last full week in October||Asexual Awareness Week|
|October 26||Intersex Awareness Day|
|November 8||Intersex Day of Remembrance|
|Second week in November||Transgender Awareness Week|
|November 20||Transgender Day of Remembrance|
|December 1||World AIDS Day|
3. Get Creative with Pop Culture
Broaden students’ understanding of current discussions and issues in the LGBTQ+ community by introducing books, movies, music, podcasts, and news articles that provide first-person voices from the LGBTQ+ community.
Contemporary representations of sexual orientation, gender roles and gender identity, homophobia, and HIV/AIDS can help students set their own cultural critical-thinking standards by expanding their horizons.
4. Commit to Culturally Responsive Teaching
Including references to LGBTQ+ culture in lessons creates space that acknowledges, values, and encourages the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community. Culturally responsive teaching enables students to discuss sexual orientation and gender in safe, non-emotional, and non-judgmental ways.
Some relevant culturally responsive teaching techniques include using varied family structures in word problems and other teaching contexts, and including classrooms displays that represent a variety of gender and relationships.
5. Integrate Lessons on Gender in English and Language Classes
Teaching about gender diversity and gender-neutral pronouns in grammar and language lessons is another meaningful way to bring LGBTQ+ visibility to the curriculum. BrainPOP’s topic on Personal Pronouns is a great place to begin!
You can also use these lessons as an opportunity to facilitate a discussion on gender identity and how to respect the gender pronoun preferences of peers. For many, the fear of misgendering may discourage a conversation about preferred gender pronouns, but it’s important to take steps toward an inclusive and respectful learning environment. You can model this behavior by offering your preferred name and the pronouns you use.
For more tips and suggestions, review our blog post, How to Talk to Your Kids About Gender.
Related BrainPOP Topics
In the Pride 2020 episode of BrainPOP News, Nat interviews Christopher Street Liberation March co-founder Ellen Broidy.
Harvey Milk was a hero for LGBTQ+ civil rights and a model of courage, perseverance, and leadership.