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BY: Andrew Alvarez
LGBTQ history is brushed off, often regarded as an off-limit topic that’s impolite to broach.
I’ve witnessed that in school. On the rare occasion that LGBTQ history is mentioned, it is not taken seriously by students or faculty, and is seen as inferior to traditional history lessons.
Take, for example, LGBTQ icon Alan Turing, who made several major contributions to modern society. He helped end World War II by creating a machine — essentially the world’s first prototype of a computer — to decipher the code used by Germans. He saved about 14 million lives and still did not meet the criteria of society to be taught in schools.
Instead, for his homosexuality, he was condemned to be dehumanized by chemical castration, a once-popular alternative to a traditional prison sentence that killed sexual drives in men.
We cannot learn from the mistakes made by those in the past if we are not shown the whole picture. Ignorance only exists because we allow it to. The moment we accept that we are inferior because we are the minority is the same moment that we surrender our freedom on a silver platter.
Freshman year, I was introduced to an advocacy program though the Dolores Huerta Foundation, which recognized LGBTQ history. Learning about the advocacy programs in my community enabled me to reach out to the faculty at my school who gave me some insight to the struggle for equality.
Think of those who want to learn about topics such as LGBTQ history but do not have the same advocacy opportunities that I have. It is not fair that it isn’t adequately taught in schools.
California’s F.A.I.R. Education Act requires schools to incorporate LGBTQ history into curriculum, however many teachers are skeptical of raising these issues in the classroom.
Should LGBTQ history receive the recognition it deserves the likelihood of discrimination would decrease, or at least begin to make it so that discrimination against minorities is frowned upon by society.
Whitney Weddell, a teacher at Nueva High School in Lamont, CA, believes that new US history books are necessary for battling discrimination that the LGBT community faces. “US history teachers are expected to go over about 130 years of history,” she claims, “but LGBTQ history should also be included.” By doing so, history teachers, both allies and non-allies, would feel more inclined to go over LGBTQ related material.
If LGBTQ history were taught widely in school, those who identify with the LGBTQ community may reap the benefits of their history and feel visible and appreciated.
Read the original version of Andrew Alvarez’s piece at South Kern Sol.