TRENTON — Public schools in New Jersey will be adding to their social studies lessons, under a new requirement on inclusivity.

Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed into law a measure that requires boards of education to include instruction and materials that "accurately portray political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people."

The law went into effect immediately, but will first apply to the 2020-2021 school year for the curriculum of middle school and high school students.

It was modeled after the 2012 California “Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Education Act,” according to a press release from the NJ Senate Majority Office.

An example of what kind of lesson might be included in such curriculum is shared online by the California-based FAIR Education Act Coalition: "Students could learn about the public debate that led to the 1993 passage of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, where people were not allowed to serve in the U.S. military if they were openly gay or lesbian. Then they would also learn about the repeal of this policy in 2011."

“It’s critical that our classrooms highlight the achievements of LGBTQ people throughout history. Our youth deserve to see how diverse American history truly is — and how they can be a part of it one day, too,” Garden State Equality executive director Christian Fuscarino said in a recent statement “I’m thankful to Governor Murphy for making New Jersey the second state in the nation to have a law promoting LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum.”

GSLEN of Central Jersey notes in a fact sheet existing law already required social sciences instruction about "men and women, African Americans, Italian Americans, American Indians, Arab Americans and other ethnic groups central to the economic, political, and social development of New Jersey and the United States, with emphasis on materials that celebrate the cultures of these groups while combating negative and harmful stereotypes."

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