Teaching contributions of LGBTQ and disabled could become law
Monday the Assembly passed a bill that now goes to the governor's desk. It would create a state mandate that NJ boards of ed would have to include in school curriculum the teaching of historical contributions made by disabled people as well as members of the LGBTQ community. Kind of like how they have Black History Month.
If the governor signs this legislation school boards will have to make curriculum changes in time for the 2020-21 school year. This was pushed by civil rights groups including Garden State Equality, Make it Better 4 Youth, GLSEN Central Jersey, Shore Area NOW and the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, mostly all gay rights groups. It was sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle and passed Monday 52-10 with 15 abstentions. In the Senate it was sponsored by Sen. Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and passed 27-8 in June.
If you'd like to read the entire bill you'll find it here. In part it reads "A board of education shall adopt inclusive instructional materials that portray the cultural and economic diversity of society including the political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, where appropriate."
Where do I start?
First of all, there's an obvious reason for those 15 abstentions Monday. In a politically correct world no one wants to appear insensitive. Even if a legislator's reason for voting against this has nothing to do with homophobia, some don't want to take any chances with optics.
I'm against this bill. Not because disabled people and members of the LGBTQ community are lesser in any way, but because a bill like this is looking for a reason to talk about them. If the accomplishments of Franklin D. Roosevelt are worth teaching, including his paralysis, that's great. It showed his fortitude. If Harvey Milk's life as a whole and his assassination are worth teaching, including his being the first openly gay elected official in California and working towards gay rights, that's great. But when we go out of our way to start looking first for lists of disabled or LGBT folks then trying to work backwards to figure out what historical significance they had, that's misguided. You're showing your agenda at that point.
In other words, it lends itself to putting special interest minority first and true historical significance second. And that's where this bill misses the mark. In fact, Aaron Potenza with Garden State Equality said, "This bill, which now goes to the governor’s desk, will improve school climate, not only for those LGBTQ youth and young people with disabilities who will now see themselves reflected in the curriculum, but for all students as studies show that schools with LGBT inclusive curriculum have significantly less bullying around sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.”
There you go. You're putting education second and social acceptance first. Please don't confuse my position. I believe fully in gay rights. In fact I think it's shocking that it's even still an issue. But when our schools are more and more burdened teaching things like character education and many other things that take time away from the basics then the outcome suffers. If we start looking to promote positive self-esteem among every minority group, (teaching historical contributions of particular religions, particular races, polygamists, little people, left-handed people, etc.) we're compromising true historic significance in favor of political correctness.
This is a bad bill. Yet you can bet with Gov. Murphy priding himself on building the most inclusive team ever he'll sign bad legislation in a heartbeat to make himself look enlightened.
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