At approximately 10:00 a.m. this morning, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education UNANIMOUSLY voted to adopt the new History & Social Sciences Curriculum Frameworks that include LGBTQ history at many grade levels! (The last revision was in 2003.) There is much to share regarding the specifics of the new inclusion (coming soon), but for now… these are my comments to the Board prior to the vote:
Good morning, my name is Deb Fowler and I am co-founder – with Miriam Morgenstern – of History UnErased, an education non-profit whose mission is to unerase LGBTQ+ history in K-12 schools.
Miriam and I were the LGBTQ history Content Advisors for the new frameworks (some of our recommendations were accepted) and I am thrilled to stand before you today and speak to the rationale to adopt the new frameworks that infuse LGBTQ-inclusive history.
Three years ago today, on June 26th of 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States – like a lightning bolt! – shifted the benchmark for equality from marriage to education.
As Justice Kennedy wrote, exclusion demeans – exclusion teaches that some are unequal in important respects.
As Justice Kennedy also wrote, the court’s decision was grounded in the conceptual underpinnings of equal dignity, and the eternal quest for the meaning of liberty.
Those ideas can be seamlessly transferred to what is in front of you today and your adoption of the new frameworks that infuse LGBTQ-inclusive history.
When every child – every child – learns and understands a more honest reflection of our shared historical narrative, then our society will begin to heal the pathology that is in large part responsible for the staggering statistics relating to LGBTQ youth and homelessness, suicidality, risk behaviors and drop out rates (which are worsening – despite undeniable advancements – in policy – for LGBTQ equality).
That is why what is happening here today is so important. K-12 schools have a unique opportunity – indeed, responsibility – to mitigate those statistics through the presentation of a more inclusive curriculum that confers dignity, liberty, inclusion, and respect.
Before Miriam and I left the classroom to devote ourselves fully to the mission of History UnErased, we were able to beta test some of the LGBTQ-inclusive content we developed. One young man, Eddie – from Honduras – after learning about Bayard Rustin stated to me, “If I had known before about Bayard Rustin and his work with Martin Luther King, I would have felt much better about myself. I feel cheated – and inspired.”
So, I want to thank you all in advance for ensuring that thousands upon thousands upon thousands of young people in Massachusetts will no longer be cheated – but, perhaps, inspired.
Thank you for your time.