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San Francisco High School to Offer First LGBT History Class

Harvey Milk

Pictured: Harvey Milk

Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco will soon offer an LGBT social studies course, still a rarity across the country and the first of its kinds in the area. 

“This is history. This is an experience that happened,” said teacher Lyndsey Schlax. “How can we not teach history? That’s what we do.”

Schlax is hard at work creating a lesson plan for the class. The curriculum will cover seminal moments in LGBT history such as the Stonewall riots, the AIDS crisis and the ongoing fight for marriage equality. Schlax will also look at the effect LGBT people have had on historical events, as well as the way they are portrayed in pop culture.

“Or, how did World War II help create the gay enclave in San Francisco?” Schlax said. “It has to do with how the war ended — people ending up in San Francisco after. People finding each other. People not necessarily wanting to return."

A college prep class, the University of California approved the course last week, qualifying it for admission to the UC system. It is also part of a resolution approved in 2010 to expand support for LGBT students. Unfortunately the effort was put on hold following the recession and budgetary restrictions.

"I'm glad we're picking it up again as we get more money. I think this class is very interesting," said board member Sandra Fewer, who sponsored the 2010 resolution. "As the mother of a gay child, I'm very sensitive to the issues of our LGBT youth."

Fewer and Schlax emphasized that the class will not include sex education.

“People always think it’s about the sex. It’s not about sex,” Fewer said. “What drove those movements was making the world a better place, a more peaceful place.”

Although classes like this are not seen on many course catalogs, perhaps education will become the next fight following marriage equality.

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