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  1. #1

    Default Is it Time to Include LGBTQ History?

    Is it Time to Include LGBTQ History?
    LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) people exist in every ethnicity, nation and belief system and representations of LGBTQ people are ubiquitous in pop culture and mainstream media, but where they do not exist is in the discussions and teachings in K-12 education. Why have LGBTQ voices been erased?

    We (Deb and Miriam) started History UnErased (HUE), a non-profit organization located in Massachusetts, after successful and rewarding careers as high school teachers. We formed HUE to provide resources and trainings about LGBTQ history so every child can learn this content. When developing our materials we asked ourselves - when it is too soon to be taught this content….and when is it too late? Is it ever too early or is it ever too late?

    "‘Erasure’ refers to the practice of collective indifference that renders certain people and groups invisible... the tendency of ideologies to dismiss inconvenient facts, and is increasingly used to describe how inconvenient people are dismissed, their history, pain and achievements blotted out." (Sehgal, Parul. "Fighting Erasure." New York Times 2 Feb. 2016)

    How do you imagine learning this history will impact youth? How do you imagine learning this history will affect the following statistics? 1 in 5 LGBTQ youth of color will attempt suicide, 45% of all homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, LGBTQ youth are 40% more likely to engage in risk behaviors and LGBTQ people are underrepresented in vital STEM fields.

    LGBTQ content goes beyond history - LGBTQ topics and themes should be part of all areas of study. HUE has created materials about the Civil War, the Harlem Renaissance, the Lavender Scare (and more) that include intersections to other core content areas, concurrent events and connections with current events. Please check out our new YouTube video channel - we will be uploading one new video every month (first prototype is up now) and we welcome your feedback. If you are interested in resources, please contact us at [email protected] and visit our website for more information about our work.



    We are inviting you to chat with us about any of the questions raised in this forum. Should LGBTQ history be included in K-12 curricula? What resources will you use or are you looking for? When will you start? We are looking forward to an engaging discussion!

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  3. #2

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    I don't think it's ever too early. I've love to see more lgbt representation in children's media too. I'm very open about discussing that some women date/marry women and some men/date marry men. I've also tried to move away from the whole boys have penis/girls have a vagina, because some don't. Once I get into teaching grammar I'll present the idea of using they/them as a gender neutral pronoun.
    Teemie - 11 years old, 6th grade with an ecclectic mix

    Blog : Tumblr : Instagram : Facebook
    http://jessicamckelvin.com

  4. #3

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    I wonder a lot about this, and think about how invisible everyone who isnt a (hetero) white male is from history books. I have a purposefully politically incorrect US history book, which has a bold sentence at the end of each chapter saying Women and minorities made very important contributions during this period. I imagine if that book was republished today it would include women, minorities, and LGBTQ as that endnote.
    Does it need to be separated out? Hakim's History of US, which is fairly common and aimed at upper elementary / middle school kids, is the history text I use with my boy, and I notice her apology about why *women and minorities* arent generally written about in the history texts. Then she devotes special chapters to *women and minorities*.
    Is this the best way to handle it? I dont know the answer. Does it marginalize the *achievements of women and minorities* - they dont belong in the real history chapter, but we will devote some space to them in this chapter.
    But how else does awareness spread? I think about the Ancient Spartans, renown warriors of old... want to talk about gays in the military? Their marriage and mating rituals involve disguising the women as boys. And all that time they spend before battle *oiling each others bodies* (Im sure thats a euphamism) to improve team cohesiveness. I find it exciting and titillating, but its almost never talked about, and in the movies, theyre certainly not portrayed as a homosexual culture. When and how do you present that aspect to kids? (Horrible Histories had a segment on Spartan Weddings, Im sure adults could figure it out from that, but I dont think my son quite got the implications.) My son is just 10, I think a lot of aspects about sexuality and references go right over his head.
    We tell our kids it doesnt matter what their sexual orientation is, but then why single it out for distinction?
    Tennessee Williams wrote Cat on a Hot Tin Roof where the husband is battling with his homosexuality - but the Paul Newman movie version downplayed and edited that aspect out. So we dont really know why hes so obsessed about this friend he used to have...
    How and when do you address both those issues and the societal censorship with your kids?
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  5. #4

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    I talk a lot about race, feminism and LGBT issues in front of my daughter. I'm not sure how much of that she absorbs but I don't avoid the subjects around her. I have had some discussion with her about these issues when they come up. I try to make a point of pointing out lack of LGBT representation when watching things with my daughter. I want her to know that if she's attracted to a girl that it's not a taboo, that it's normal. It doesn't matter what her orientation is but if she's anything but straight things are going to be a little different, and in some ways a little harder. Sexual orientation is a distinct part of our identities though. When you find yourself outside that societal expectation of straight, you get judgement, you get mislabeled and sometimes you feel invisible. I want her to know that despite the lack of representation there are people in the world that aren't being represented like they should and they've been apart of history and not just something new that popped up.
    I just did a search and it looks like October is LGBT history month. Maybe that would be an excellent starting place, for those that are left out of history taking the history months to take a little time to focus on their contributions is an excellent start. I'm going to have to start looking for some resources.
    Teemie - 11 years old, 6th grade with an ecclectic mix

    Blog : Tumblr : Instagram : Facebook
    http://jessicamckelvin.com

  6. #5

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    "Does it need to be separated out? Hakim's History of US, which is fairly common and aimed at upper elementary / middle school kids, is the history text I use with my boy, and I notice her apology about why *women and minorities* arent generally written about in the history texts. Then she devotes special chapters to *women and minorities*.
    Is this the best way to handle it?"

    My thinking about this has changed as I've learned more and done more research. Now I see bringing forward this history/content (and other marginalized history/content) as a process of adding in and not separating out. Women, people of color, LGBTQ people are all part of the development of our national history and national identity; and bringing them back into the fold of the American fabric, makes the history really come alive.

  7. #6

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    History has historically be written by the winners of any conflict, or by the majority at the time. This means ALL minorities are usually overlooked.

    I don't think there is a TOO EARLY.

    Our son spends 1 week every year visiting and staying with his aunt AND her wife. (we've had family members on my side whom I no longer speak to freak out over this). For HIM, homosexuality is nor more odd than heterosexuality. At some point in the future (when he can be trusted not to blurt it out to my family) we'll let him in on the fact that mommy is part of the LGBTQ acronym. Eventually I will figure out how to explain the T part of the acronym in a way that isn't confusing for him (or me) but he's only just realized that penises are not universal accessories, so that may be saved for a bit.

    So, yes, I would LOVE him to see the history of it. To realize it wasn't always taboo. Though I think we'll just try as much as possible to include it in our regular history. I'm more about the culture of history rather than specific dates, so frequently LGBTQ ppl were there, just...not spoken about.

  8. #7

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    When developing our materials we asked ourselves - when it is too soon to be taught this content….and when is it too late? Is it ever too early or is it ever too late?
    Is this question asked out of fear of the conservative religious population's reaction? In my mind, it's never too early to teach children the truth about people in our world. History is about people who affect change - regardless of gender, age, sexuality, race, nationality or religion. Why shouldn't children of all ages learn historical facts about people of all types. I recognize that certain groups and minorities are left out of many history books, so I believe HUE is a move in the right direction toward truth in history.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by hippiebutterfly View Post
    Is this question asked out of fear of the conservative religious population's reaction? In my mind, it's never too early to teach children the truth about people in our world. History is about people who affect change - regardless of gender, age, sexuality, race, nationality or religion. Why shouldn't children of all ages learn historical facts about people of all types. I recognize that certain groups and minorities are left out of many history books, so I believe HUE is a move in the right direction toward truth in history.
    No, the question isn't just about fear from religious groups - we've surveyed many teachers and parents and there is a generals concern among some that children will be confused. Teachers fear offending students/parents. They also lack resources. Of course, I am sure that there are many homeschooling families who would object to teaching about LGBTQ activism/history!

  10. #9
    Senior Member Enlightened Soulhammer's Avatar
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    There definitely is a place for separating out AND teaching a more inclusive history.
    We have to do both for as long as the cultural and political environments in which we live are heteronormative. It's kind of like #BlackLivesMatter. We actually have to say that because in some parts of our culture, people don't just assume that to be true.

    My little (5yo) mostly thinks about relationships in terms of family relationships, so I make sure the families represented in our books and shows are diverse. It's a relatively small list, though. My daughter understands that my husband's aunt has a wife, and I haven't made a big deal about it (he does, though, and not in a good way

    I have different discussions with my teenager, who, as you'd expect, is in the throes of figuring out who he is. Our conversations center on helping him to understand (imo, anyway) that gender is along a spectrum, that his parts don't define his sexuality, and that he is free to explore that spectrum or settle on any part that feels right. I highlight without huge fanfare significant LGBT figures. I also don't edit out the moments in my life when I was in relationships with women, now that he's older and curious about who I was when I was younger.

    TLDR: I pretty much try to keep it casual and to raise my kids to assume that people can be straight, LGBT, or some places in between and that it is all good.

    I'd pay money for more well-written literature for kids and young adults that includes central LGBT characters. I'd buy picture books that celebrate gender fluidity, esp. for my youngest. I'd pay money for unit studies that focus on Stonewall, marriage equality, and specific LGBT figures. I'd also pay for materials to help educate my son about how to be a better ally in some of the extremely conservative spaces in which we function as homeschoolers.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miri Morgenstern View Post
    No, the question isn't just about fear from religious groups - we've surveyed many teachers and parents and there is a generals concern among some that children will be confused. Teachers fear offending students/parents. They also lack resources. Of course, I am sure that there are many homeschooling families who would object to teaching about LGBTQ activism/history!
    I have a hard time believing that secular families would object to teaching about the LGBTQ activism/history. Most I've known have been pretty open minded. I feel like it is the conservative groups in our country that find such issues offensive. Fear drives their motives out of ignorance. I wonder if the fear the teachers express about offending comes from the closed mindedness of the families of whom these children belong? We aren't talking about discussing the sex lives of the LGBTQ individuals (of which conservatives find so offensive), we are talking about the major contributions and societal changes they have influenced. I guess I don't understand how including their stories in the rich history of humankind would offend.
    Homeschooling Mamarama
    Native Idahoan Atheist
    Eclectically homeschooling since 2006.

    Son (20) - Class of 2014
    Daughter (17) - Class of 2016
    Daughter (15) - Class of 2019

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Is it Time to Include LGBTQ History?