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N.J. schools will finally teach about LGBTQ history. Here’s what kids would learn.


When New Jersey schools begin teaching students about LGBTQ history, it will be easy enough to say “Walt Whitman was a great poet, who, by the way, also happened to be gay.”

But that’s not the point of a new state law, and the stakes are so much higher than a token reference, historians and advocates say. If done right, New Jersey will help set the national agenda for teaching kids about gender and sexuality throughout history and across all subjects, exposing students to a past that’s largely been ignored.

“This isn’t about rainbow pompoms and cheering for gay people throughout history,” said Don Romesburg, a Sonoma State University professor of women’s and gender studies who helped guide California’s first-in-the-nation inclusive curriculum. “It’s about teaching how systems of gender and sexuality change over time and how people respond to that.”

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