We’ve been debating the way history is told and taught for centuries.
And while there has been some progress (hey, some schools actually tell the truth about slavery and emancipation, and about Christopher Columbus and what really went down on Thanksgiving, for example), we’ve got a long way to go.
California just made a groundbreaking step on the path to transparency by being the first state to mandate that K-8 textbooks include stories of the LGBTQ community, TIME reports.
After a surge of LGBTQ young suicides, the state’s FAIR Education Act was passed to mandate this more inclusive curriculum.
Helping kids realize that LGBTQ people “are part of our collective community, past and present, is a way for everyone to understand they belong,” Don Romesburg, a professor of women’s and gender studies at Sonoma State University told TIME.
The stories and information are being rolled out in an age-appropriate timeline. As second graders learning about different family dynamics, photos of two moms or dads will be included along with single parents, foster parents and other family makeups. High school juniors will learn about important moments in LGBTQ history such as the Lavender Scare, a push to exclude gay people from government jobs in the 1950s. Historical figures’ same-sex relationships will be acknowledged, not dismissed.
Amendments to the decades old textbooks will take some time, and it remains to be seen how long it will take other states to follow suit, however, this is a milestone to be celebrated.
Of the changes, Romesburg tells TIME they will give students “a more realistic understanding of the past, and a vocabulary for the present.”
Any opportunity for kids to feel seen and a part of a community as they’re growing is a crucial step in their development. Hopefully, this more inclusive curriculum will help kids feel less isolated, families become more educated, and maybe have an impact on the rampant bullying that LGBTQ kids face at school. Here’s to a giant step forward.