In complying with the 2011 FAIR Education Act, which requires all California K-12 schools to integrate age appropriate, factual information about the roles and positive contributions of LGBT Americans and people with disabilities into their social studies and history classes, the Los Angeles LGBT Center has published the first batch of lesson plans for teachers online at lalgbtcenter.org/lgbthistory. The development of these Out for Safe Schools® lesson plans was made possible in part through the generous support of Toyota.

The lesson plans, many of which include vintage photos and archived media reports, showcase a wide spectrum of topics, events, and individuals considered to be vital in LGBT history, such as civil rights activists Audre Lorde, Harvey Milk, and Bayard Rustin; the Black Cat Tavern Riots; the AIDS crisis; and the concept of “coming out.”

“We are witnessing a pivotal moment in California’s education system—the reality of LGBT people and the struggles and accomplishments of the LGBT movement will not be ignored in our classrooms any longer,” said Center CEO Lorri L. Jean. “By teaching the next generations about the historical contributions of the LGBT community, we are helping to build a safer world for LGBT people and a better world for all.”

These lesson plans are the results of a collaboration among the Center, UCLA History-Geography Project, and the ONE Archives Foundation. In 2018 the three organizations hosted a weeklong symposium for a cohort of teachers from the Los Angeles area dedicated to designing LGBT lessons for U.S. History teachers by tapping into the tremendous resources at ONE Archives at the USC Libraries—the world’s largest repository of LGBTQ materials—and learning from esteemed scholars like Dr. Craig Loftin and Dr. Patrick Covert-Ortiz.

The research conducted by the teachers at ONE Archives at the USC Libraries was then incorporated into the LGBT history lesson plans. The cohort of dedicated history educators included: Israel Calderon, Baldwin Park High School; Miguel Covarrubias, Los Angeles Unified School District; Hala Dillsi, Grover Cleveland High School; Elana Goldbaum, The Archer School for Girls; Sasha Guzman, Social Justice Humanitas Academy; Eunice Ho, Hollenbeck Middle School; Chris Lewis, Mountain View High School; Peta Lindsay, Los Angeles Leadership Academy High School; and Marika Manos, Long Beach Unified School District.

“In the beauty, diversity, and unimaginable strength of the LGBT movement, there are many lessons for our struggles today,” said Peta Lindsay, a lesson plan contributor from Los Angeles Leadership Academy High School. “I am proud to have been able to work with the ONE Archives and the Los Angeles LGBT Center in bringing these crucial historical lessons to our young people.”

“The inclusion of LGBTQ history and culture within K-12 classrooms brings critical validation and affirmation to the experiences and identities of LGBTQ youth,” said Erik Adamian, education and outreach manager at the ONE Archives Foundation. “The lesson plans are not only a testament to the rich and vibrant history of our community; they are tools for resistance and resilience for youth in the face of erasure that queer narratives often face.”

“Being a member of the curriculum cohort has been a transformative experience for me, both professionally and personally,” said Hala Dillsi from Grover Cleveland High School. “As a teacher, I am inspired by the resources, lessons, and work to bring LGBTQ+ history to students in a meaningful and engaging way. As a gay person of color, I am proud to learn and relearn LGBTQ+ history in an empowering way where I can see myself in the narratives. I'm grateful for this program and the work we are doing.”

In addition to California schools, the online lesson plans will be rolled out to school districts nationwide participating in OUT for Safe Schools®, the Center’s national program created to encourage school staff (including administrators, teachers, bus drivers, etc.) to publicly identify as supportive LGBT allies on campus. The program currently works with 18 education agency partners, including Chicago Public Schools, Los Angeles Unified School District, Massachusetts State Department of Education, Oakland Unified School District, and New York Department of Education (the nation’s largest school district).

For more information about OUT for Safe Schools®, visit outforsafeschools.org.

Read more about the cohort of dedicated history educators in the Center’s blog at lgbtnewsnow.org/lgbthistory.

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