LGBTQ rights advocates in the state of New Jersey are celebrating today after the signing of a new bill that will require LGBTQ history to be taught in schools. Democratic Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill, which he promised as part of his campaign. Governor Murphy has long worked to promote equality for minority groups, including LGBTQ and transgender individuals. New Jersey is now the second state to adopt this policy, according to USA Today.
Civil rights advocates hope that this bill will be a step in the right direction toward creating further inclusion and acceptance. They believe that if children are properly educated on these types of issues, they will grow into more accepting adults, thus decreasing the amount of bullying in schools.
Jaime Bruesehoff of Vernon, New Jersey, is the mother of a 12-year-old transgender child named Rebekah. She was among the many who gathered in support of the new bill. Bruesehoff believes that this is a necessary change to provide representation towards minority groups.
“This bill is so important for our young people,” Bruesehoff said. “They need to see examples of themselves in the history being taught and in classes they are going to each day. We know representation matters.” She believes that in learning about other LGBTQ individuals, students will realize that you can make a positive contribution to society despite your differences.
New Jersey has passed a law that requires schools to teach about LGBTQ history! ❤️????????????????????????????️????https://t.co/M9sIu7GFnQ
— GLAAD (@glaad) February 3, 2019
Not everyone is on board with the decision, though. Conservative organizations spoke out in criticism of the bill, saying that it will cause students to question their sexuality and become further confused. It might also take away a parent’s ability to teach their children about these sensitive issues as they see fit.
Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, spoke out in regard to what he believes is an infringement on parents’ rights.
“We believe it further erodes the right of parents to discuss this sensitive issue with their children, if in fact schools are going to be promoting and making the claim that this particular person was an LGBTQ member.”
While LGBTQ history lessons will be a part of mandatory curriculum in public schools, the bill does not apply to private schools. Thus, religious-based schools will not be required to teach material that may be contrary to their beliefs.
In addition to the LGBTQ history curriculum, New Jersey also opted to adapt transgender-friendly policies in their schools. This will allow students to go by the pronouns they desire and use the restroom for the gender they identify with.