Three cheers for New Jersey! It has officially become the second state in the nation to require New Jersey public schools to teach LGBT history. The measure was signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday, January 31st, modeling it after a similar law that was passed in California in 2011. California passed the FAIR Act that mandated a better representation of the LGBT community and other minority groups, adding addition frameworks in 2016.
Under the new law, New Jersey Boards of Education must adopt instruction that accurately portrays “political, economic and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people where appropriate.” Murphy said he was “honored” to sign the bill, which he believes will make teaching about the accomplishments and contributions of the LGBTQ community and those with disabilities mandatory.
Murphy is no stranger to bills protecting members of the LGBT community. In July, the governor enacted a law allowing the sex designation on death and birth certificates to be altered.
The material will be in the social studies curricula for middle and high schools, beginning with the 2020-21 academic year. Each Board of Education will institute procedures regarding the selection of material and how lessons changes will be put into effect. The “main” goal for legislators is to have textbooks updated by 2020 ensuring students learn the diverse histories to help build more tolerant communities and strengthen educational outcomes.
Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, who is an original sponsor of the bill, was one of the two openly gay members of the legislature at the time. One of the main reasons the law was created, was to encourage students who feel that they are outcasts that they can make a contribution to American society, despite their gender, or sexual orientation.
The legislation comes as the hashtag #Expose Christian Schools started trending on Twitter after it was revealed Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, would be teaching at a Christian school in northern Virginia. One of the disqualifying criteria for prospective employees at the school list “homosexual or lesbian sexual activity.”