Montgomery County, Maryland, an ultra-liberal county north of Washington, D.C., became the first public school system in the U.S. to approve an LGBTQ history course in K-12 education on May 12.
Per official documents, the goal of the half-credit course is to “increase the awareness of students to the history, culture, and challenges of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) community in America.” The summary claimed that the “LGBTQ+ community faces enduring discrimination that has resulted in the rise of hate crimes against them, higher rates of depression, suicide, and addictive drug use.” The document continued, “The course aims to bring acceptance, support, and a stronger sense of shared community among our students of all sexual and gender identities.”
The course was designed for both LGBTQ students and those who do not identify as LGBTQ. The school system also claimed that the course “will empower” LGBTQ students while helping others “increase understanding and acceptance” of their LGBTQ peers.
The course is categorized as an elective social studies course that is geared to junior and senior high school students in grades 11 and 12. The county plans to introduce it in spring 2021 in two county high schools and later introduce it into eight other high schools in the 2021-2022 school year.
According to Fox 5 News, ten high schools requested the course. The subjects included in the course are “factors that shape identity, with a focus on intersectionality.” The second unit focuses on investigating “which voices are included in the historical narrative by exploring the resistance and resilience of the LGBTQ+ community in the U.S.” The third unit looks at the “cultural contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals and their representation in media.” The final unit engages “students in examining and addressing contemporary challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals locally, nationally, and globally.”
One of the parents who is writing the course curriculum is Mark Eckstein. Eckstein is gay and is the LGBTQ committee chair on the Montgomery County Council of PTAs. He told Fox 5 News that he was stunned to find out how little LGBTQ history was being taught in county schools. Eckstein said that the course is an elective, which “counters a lot of the potential pushback.”
However, the county failed to acknowledge that discrimination is not the only reason for LGBTQ teenage depression, suicide, and drug use. Other unnamed potential factors are home and family life and issues related to gender identity or gender dysphoria. For example, a UCLA study found that transgender individuals were likely to develop suicidal thoughts because of homelessness, lack of education, unemployment, and loneliness.