The Equality Act, a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, is moving to the Senate after being passed by the House of Representatives – and it could affect what’s taught in classrooms.
The Equality Act enables protections within education, particularly with how teachers implement LGBTQ inclusive curriculum.
“It signals to educators who are not part of our community that they too can, hopefully, implement language, representation and curriculum that is LGBTQ inclusive,” said Sophia Arredondo, director of Education and Youth Programs at leading LGBTQ+ education advocacy group GLSEN, to USA TODAY.
For many students, LGBTQ inclusive curriculum is lacking in their classrooms. Nationally, only 19.4% of respondents to GLSEN’s 2019 National School Climate Survey said they had been taught positive representations of LGBTQ+ people, history, or events in their schools.
LGBTQ protections:Equality Act passes in House, but faces uncertain future in Senate
In California, where the first U.S. law mandating LGBTQ inclusive curriculum (the FAIR Education Act), was passed nearly ten years ago, only 31% of students reported being taught this history in 2019.
When it was passed, many advocates hoped the bill would lead to equitable and complete learning about the contributions and accomplishments of LGBT people throughout history and into the present.
But the FAIR Education Act was roadblocked in California for years.