As Colorado debates what to teach in history classes, here’s what LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum looks like
References to LGBTQ community have been removed from proposed changes to state’s social studies standards
In the mid-1600s, when Virginia was still just a colony, a debate erupted among residents in a small English settlement: Was a servant in the home of John and Jane Tyos a man or a woman?
The servant was raised as a girl named Thomasine Hall in 17th-century England, learning to sew and make lace. Hall grew older and followed an elder brother into military service, donning men’s clothing and hairstyles. But Hall reverted to wearing women’s clothing and made a living through needlework after serving in the military.
Then when Hall set sail for Virginia in 1627, it was with a new name: Thomas.
The case of Thomasine/Thomas Hall — which ended up going before the Virginia General Court of Jamestown in 1629 — is one of the lessons eighth- or ninth-grade students learn about in schools that teach LGBTQ-inclusive curriculums developed by a Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization named History UnErased.
“People who are LGBTQ-identifying are woven into the fabric of what students are already learning anyway,” said Debra Fowler, co-founder and executive director of the organization. “They’ve always been there.”
History UnErased’s curriculum is an example of the lessons Colorado schools could choose to teach to comply with a 2019 state law requiring public schools to teach the historical contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in history classes.
The bill created the 1192 Commission, which used History UnErased as one of its resources when it made recommendations to the committee revising the state’s social studies standards on how to meet the requirements of the 2019 law.
The Denver Post reviewed History UnErased’s curriculum — which is not yet used in Colorado schools — to understand what students could learn when they are taught the experiences of people in the LGBTQ community.
Colorado has been revising its social studies standards since last year, and, in doing so, the state has become embroiled in the national debate over how and when schools should teach about gender identity, sexual orientation, race and racism.
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