There is a vast pool of people and talent that the world is missing - from our collective past and from our present world.
Right now, someone who has so much to offer this world will be absent, fall behind, lose confidence, fail, drop out, not graduate, not find their affinity, not become great, not contribute. We have an opportunity, right now, to ensure that these people who the world should not miss are given what we know is a critical piece of our education process: recognition of one's place in the world and one's capacity to contribute to it.
Right now, the discussions and teachings in our nation's schools are (unwittingly) omitting the vital history and voices of people who contributed to the development of our nation and world because they reflect non-normative expressions of gender and sexual orientation. This status quo must be challenged.
At the end of a school day, LGBTQ youth return home to a family that (most likely) does not reflect that invisible, core piece of themselves; therefore, our schools have the prodigious responsibility to provide those reflections within the discussions and teachings of core curricula â beginning in elementary school. The price we pay for not doing this is reflected in the staggering statistics relating to LGBTQ youth and homelessness, suicidality, risk behaviors, school performance, teen pregnancy and school safety.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs posits that the basic necessities of food, water and shelter trump any other human need. I emphatically disagree. The need to belong â connect â is at the core of who we are as human beings. The desire to thrive and contribute perishes without a sense of belonging and connection. Very often, especially in at-risk communities, that sense of belonging can flourish in our schools. The inclusion of LGBTQ history and content within K-12 contexts will provide a sense of connection and belonging that is so desperately needed, as everyone knows someone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.