The other night, I was watching a TV show (ok, binge watching a series) and in one scene the investigators used invisible ink on some paper currency to find where the embezzlers were stowing the money (bonus points if you know which show I’m referring to – hint: the cash was found under the bathroom vanity). The scene reminded me of our job at History UnErased. We are helping teachers to shine a light on something that is only seemingly invisible; in reality there are fingerprints in the form of testimony, documents, artifacts, secondary sources and photos that lead us right to cache. Teachers have to know that there is value in revealing this invisible history to their students, and then they need the right kind of light, aka teaching materials and training, so they can create truly inclusive classrooms.
When we talk about History UnErased, we always begin with statistics: Students who identify as LGBTQ are 30% more likely to drop out of school than their peers, 60% more likely to be truant and 1 in 5 LGBTQ youth of color attempt suicide. Outside of school, discussion about gender and sexuality are prevalent in youth culture, and especially in social media, but those discussions are missing from their classrooms. Children have the right to see themselves and their families reflected in the lessons being taught in our classrooms, and all children have the right to learn honest and inclusive history. Real change, and the mitigation of these disturbing statistics occurs through education, discussion, deepening understanding and honesty.