Update: MCPS announced the creation of the first LGBTQ+ studies course during a May Board of Education meeting.
As the world progresses socially, schools must follow suit; MCPS is planning to introduce an LGBTQ+ studies elective starting in the spring semester of 2021. The course is expected to arrive at least ten high schools who have already expressed interest in a pilot course, far more schools than typical to agree to pilot. Currently, the Board of Education has not yet approved the class but it will be presented for consideration by the end of the year.
Topics in the curriculum are likely to include LGBTQ+ history, representation in film and art, current events, and sociology according to Tiferet Ani, an MCPS social studies instructional specialist who is working to introduce the class and is developing the curriculum with other staff and even students.
“I hope the class talks about historical figures that were part of the LGBT community and the impacts the community has done and some of the major events such as the first pride march,”’ said junior Alex Sasha Goyal.
Additionally, educating students about the LGBTQ+ community is key to prevent ignorance and normalize teaching about all kinds of historically marginalized groups.
“Inviting students to seek out, both within and beyond the mainstream media to learn more about current struggles in different geographic areas related to LGBTQ communities would be an important part of the course I imagine, as the fight for equal rights amongst human beings continues,” said science teacher and Gender and Sexualities Alliance sponsor Benjamin Tylka.
Inclusive classes such as these are essential for school systems to be adopted. Students in the LGBTQ+ community deserve to feel adequately represented; inclusive classes can promote acceptance, preventing students from feeling like outsiders.
“There is some representation in Clarksburg, but in a lot of schools, there is little to no representation and kids get bullied from this and even get threatened for their life,” said Goyal. “There needs to be more representation in schools since it’s severely lacking.”
This inclusivity becomes increasingly important considering that the US Centers for Disease Control polled high schoolers on their sexuality and found that there are at least 1.3 million high schoolers in America who are not straight.
“This elective should be adopted in MCPS since it does represent a large and ever more visible portion of our society,” said Tylka. “It makes sense to me that MCPS would look into the creation of such a course to speak to and teach about these struggles.”
Representative classes are crucial because school-sanctioned education about the LGBTQ+ community can foster growth in the community. If MCPS encourages learning about a community that experiences discrimination, it is more welcoming to all kinds of diversity.
“I really do hope that this class gets approved since not many people do know about the history of the LGBT community and how it made an impact on a lot of people,” said Goyal. “Like, sometimes, people will ask me ‘when did this pride parade thing become a thing?’ Or ‘I didn’t know that being gay is a big thing.’”
There are even further opportunities for LGBTQ+ representation in schools.
“Our next step should be to push for LGBTQ inclusion in our health and early social studies curriculum, so we make sure we are teaching all aspects of US history, not just the parts that have been written and glorified by the groups have historically held power the longest,” said senior SGA President Zoe Tishaev.
As for whether the course will be available at Clarksburg, it is uncertain. However, it is certain that an LGBTQ+ elective being introduced to MCPS would be a major step towards growth, acceptance, and inclusion.
“Being aware is the first step towards understanding,” said Tylka.