Massachusetts has today unveiled an optional curriculum centered around LGBTQ history, English, and health, The Boston Herald reports.
The new lesson plans will cover things like the 1969 Stonewall Riots and writings by queer authors such as Langston Hughes and Willa Cather. Homosexual themes within The Great Gatsby—i.e. Nick Carraway's possible love for Jay Gatsby—are also specifically mentioned.
The curriculum was developed by a group of teachers from the Massachusetts Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students and the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, and become available this summer.
“We talk about mirrors and windows,” said Jeff Perrotti, director of the Massachusetts Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students, to The Boston Herald. “Students need to see themselves reflected and see others who are different from themselves. It is important that all students feel safe, valued and respected in school so they can be ready to learn.”
Since curricular decisions are conducted at the local level, the new course material isn't mandatory, but the resources will be available to any school who asks for them.
Commission director Corey Prachniak-Rincon said: “If students don’t see themselves in the curriculum, they are not as likely to pay attention. It is a huge demand we hear from teachers. They recognize part of the reason why LGBTQ students feel excluded is they’re not reflected and that part of their identity is ignored.”