The Implementation of the FAIR Education Act: Teaching LGBT History in Schools
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California’s FAIR Education Act, which passed last year, requires all public schools to include the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans in their social studies classes. It is outside the scope of education law to detail who or how LGBT-inclusive history would be implemented; School districts are expected to work with their in-house or contracted curriculum designers for guidance in how to meet the letter of the law. FAIR benefits students because teaching LGBT issues in the curriculum correlates with safer school experiences for all youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. My research goal was to provide an extra resource for school districts in the process of implementing the FAIR Act. I started with two questions: What historical events and people should be covered in the new curriculum? And, in what grade levels would it make the most sense to incorporate LGBT history? To investigate these questions, I combed through LGBT history and cross-referenced important events in LGBT history with California curriculum standards. I also interviewed LGBT historians, LGBT activists, and teachers who have taught LGBT topics in the classroom. Ultimately, I created a guide for California teachers that suggests opportunities for the infusion of LGBT-inclusive history and contains lesson plans about different topics in LGBT history. The booklet has been submitted to LAUSD for review.