May 12, 2020 at 10:38 pm EDT | by Michelle Siegel
Montgomery County school board approves LGBTQ studies course
reparations, gay news, Washington Blade
(Photo by Hai Yang via Flickr)

The Montgomery County Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously approved the development of a one-semester LGBTQ studies pilot course.

“This course is an interdisciplinary exploration of LGBTQ+ identity, history, and culture,” reads a summary of the course, which would be open to juniors and seniors who have taken U.S. history. “The LGBTQ+ community faces enduring discrimination that has resulted in a rise in hate crimes against them, higher rates of depression, suicide, and addictive drug use. The course aims to bring acceptance, support, and a stronger sense of shared community among our students of all sexual and gender identities.”

Mark Eckstein, chair of the Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations’ LGBTQ Committee, is contributing his efforts and advice towards building the curriculum.

“A lot of students were really offended and hurt that they didn’t see themselves at all in MCPS, and this was a push from them to see themselves in the curriculum and add LGBTQ inclusivity to different aspects of MCPS,” Eckstein said. “And I think the administration came on board after they saw the ill effects of not being represented in the curriculum — how the students felt, you know, less human … and this idea of being affirmed by the Board of Education and Montgomery County Public Schools, I think, goes a long way to decreasing incidents of hate and bias. Because once you learn about these folks and these experiences and the culture, it’s much more difficult to act in ways that are offensive.”

According to a memorandum from Superintendent Jack R. Smith, two high schools intend to offer it next spring, while eight others plan to offer it during the 2021-2022 school year.

Based on the results of the initial implementation — including surveys, gradebook data, teacher feedback and a specialist review — a recommendation will be made “to conclude the pilot and open the course to all high schools, continue the pilot for an additional year, or end the pilot and remove the course from consideration as a new elective for high schools.”

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