Dalila Ali Rajah
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New Jersey Schools Begin LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum

New Jersey

An LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum in the Garden State is coming to fruition.

This week, 12 schools in New Jersey have begun teaching "a robust set of lesson plans that will teach the next generation of youth about the political, social, and economic contributions of LGBTQ people," according to Garden State Equality, the state's most prominent LGBTQ advocacy group.

This small set of schools is a part of Garden State Equality's pilot program for a curriculum that will be implemented in public schools across the state this fall. The lessons are not only related to history — all relevant subjects will include an LGBTQ component.

Over the next six months, Garden State Equality will also provide each school in the pilot program with training in professional development, workshops to educate parents, and a curriculum coach to help incorporate the lessons.

"Our youth deserve to see themselves reflected in the classroom, and we know the work we’re doing is going to change the lives of LGBTQ students for the better," said Ashley Chiappano, Safe Schools and Community Education manager for Garden State Equality. 

Make It Better for Youth partnered with Garden State Equality on the initiative, which will be provided free to New Jersey's public high schools and middle schools due to funding from the Braitmayer Foundation and PSEG Foundation.

Thanks in part to the lobbying of these organizations — and youth activists like the 12-year-old trans advocate Rebekah, who was recently profiled by Marvel's Hero Project — New Jersey became the second state in the nation to require LGBTQ-inclusive lessons to be taught in public schools when Gov. Phil Murphy signed Assembly Bill 1335 last February.

The bill, modeled after a 2012 California law, requires public schools to teach "the political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, where appropriate." The new law does not apply to private schools.

See below for the full list of schools in the pilot program:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Asbury Park
Forrestdale School in Rumson
Haddon Heights Junior-Senior High School
Highland Park School
Millburn Middle School
Newark Arts High School
Pinelands Regional Junior High School in Tuckerton
Bergen Arts and Science Charter Middle School in Hackensack
Bergen Arts and Science Charter High School in Hackensack
Chartertech High School for the Performing Arts in Somers Point
Unity Charter School in Morristown

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