District Administration March 2018 - 18

BeyondtheNews

CURRICULUM

Representation benefits
Nationally, only 22 percent of LGBT
students attend schools where the curriculum includes lessons about LGBT people
or history portrayed in a positive light,
according to a 2015 study from GLSEN,
a national education organization focused
on creating safe schools for students in
this community. However, students in
schools with an LGBT-inclusive curriculum are less likely to hear homophobic
remarks, and less likely to feel unsafe
because of their sexual orientation, the
study found.
"The bottom line is that LGBT students are just like every other student
in that classroom-they need to see
themselves reflected in the reality of what
they're being taught," says Eliza Byard,
executive director of GLSEN. "The inclusion of LGBT people and a depiction of
the LGBT movement in an accurate and
18 March 2018

ASSOCIATED PRESS

ASSOCIATED PRESS

California students in fall 2018 will be
the first in the U.S. to use textbooks that
highlight the historical contributions
made by people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
The new curricular materials come
after the state's passage of the FAIR Education Act in 2011, which requires that
history instruction cover LGBT people as
well as those with disabilities.
"This requirement supports those students by enabling them to see themselves
in the story of our state and country," says
Kenneth McDonald, education programs
consultant at the California Department
of Education.
Last November, the state board of education approved instructional materials
for K8 that align with California's History/Social-Science Curriculum Framework, passed in 2016. Districts can select
the program that best meets their needs,
McDonald says.

GETTYIMAGES.COM: WYNNTER

California adopts inclusive textbooks
that highlight LGBT figures in history

EXPANDED CURRICULUM-California's new LGBT curriculum now allows
students to learn about the historical impact of LGBT contributors such as Walt
Whitman, Willa Cather and Harvey Milk.

positive way provides all students with
an enriched and accurate understanding
of U.S. history, and provides a toehold of
connection for some of the most marginalized youths in our schools today."
Implementing the curriculum
The student editions of all California
materials submitted by publishers were
made available online for the public to
view and to provide input on during the
process. "Providing this sort of concrete
guidance is essential to ensure that all
publishers are held to the same standard,"
McDonald says.
Questions arose between content
creators and LGBT advocates regarding historical figures who may have
had same-sex relationships, but did not
openly identify as gay. However, "it
would be dishonest to try to understand
Walt Whitman or Willa Cather without
understanding the fact of their romantic
lives as something that shaped their art,
their activism and their impact on the
world," Byard says. "Whether or not you
call someone lesbian, gay, bisexual or
transgender, erasing their personal reality
is dishonest in terms of understanding

who they were or the impact of their life's
work."
These discussions can be useful lessons
about the construction of sexual identity,
and how that influences someone's work,
Byard says. For example, teachers might
not refer to Walt Whitman as a gay man,
but they can discuss how his work expresses an attraction to men.
District leaders should assure teachers
that they will not face any administrative
backlash for addressing LGBT figures
and movements in the classroom, says
GLSEN education manager Becca Mui.
It's best to front-load communications
about inclusive curricula to parents as
well, she adds. She suggested that administrators can share research on the benefits
of this curricula to all students, and what
is being taught, why, and when. This can
be done during back to school night, or
in newsletters or other communications.
"Making clear that the schools in your
district intend to teach a full, robust,
challenging, inclusive curriculum that
will help build a better learning community is a wonderful message for a district
leader to carry at any time," Byard says.
-Alison DeNisco
District Administration


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration March 2018

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