Twelve New Jersey schools will begin piloting a new LGBTQ-focused curriculum this month, the first wave of a requirement that will soon be mandated across the state.
The pilot sites to be announced by the state Tuesday – including schools in Hackensack, Morristown, Newark and Asbury Park – are intended to be proving grounds for new lessons in history, economics and even grammar designed to improve awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender contributions and issues. The instruction, approved by the state last year, will be a requirement for all of New Jersey’s public schools starting in the fall.
“We want students to see themselves in the stories that are told,” said Ashley Chiappano, safe schools and community education manager for Garden State Equality, the advocacy group leading the pilot program. “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 requires that middle and high school students learn about the social, political and economic contributions of LGBTQ people but leaves it up to local districts to determine how to teach those lessons. School boards must update standards in time for the 2020-21 school year.