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MD to Teach LGBTQ, Disability Rights History in Schools

Advocates say teaching the history of LGBTQ rights and disability rights in Maryland schools can help underrepresented students feel more accepted in the classroom. (Manny DaCunha/Adobe Stock)
Advocates say teaching the history of LGBTQ rights and disability rights in Maryland schools can help underrepresented students feel more accepted in the classroom. (Manny DaCunha/Adobe Stock)
August 12, 2019

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Maryland Department of Education says it is looking to add curriculum that explores the history of the LGBTQ rights and disability rights movements.

The move comes after a push by lawmakers earlier this month to expand the state's history studies to include lessons focused on LGBTQ Americans and other groups that have been historically underrepresented in the classroom.

State Delegate Eric Luedtke, a Democrat, organized a letter to the school system, which was signed by 34 other delegates and 13 state senators.

Luedtke says the Education Department told him on Friday it was committed to making the change.

"We're talking about the struggle for civil rights in the 20th century,” he states. “And we do a very good job in our classrooms of teaching that struggle in the context of civil rights for black and Latino Americans and for women. But we just happen to have left out these groups, as have many states."

Over the past eight years, California, New Jersey, Colorado and Oregon have expanded their education guidelines to include the history of the LGBTQ rights movement. Many other states are also considering including these lessons into their classrooms.

Maryland's Department of Education says it expects a draft framework for the expanded curriculum to be available in 2020.

California was the first state to include gay history lessons in its schools in 2011. Many critics at the time said the state's new guidelines were a way to indoctrinate students into gay culture. But Luedtke disagrees.

"Telling the truth isn't indoctrination,” he states. “It's telling the truth. You know, this is history, history is the story of the past and these are events from our past that are important to our history.

“I think people who believe it's indoctrination are coming from a place where they don't want these stories told for their own political reasons."

Luedtke says teaching LGBTQ rights history will help students become more accepting of gay classmates.

The Human Rights Campaign's 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report found that only 26% of gay youths surveyed around the country feel safe in their classrooms.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - MD