At the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco, high schoolers will soon have an amazing educational opportunity: a college preparatory course focusing on LGBT history and social studies.
The semester-long course will cover the basic tenets of LGBT history, like the Stonewall Riots and the AIDS crisis. But the professor, Lyndsey Schlax, is working all summer to make curricula including as many different LGBT events and issues as possible.
Also, 30% of the students at this high school identify as LGBT.
Schlax is spending the summer creating lesson plans. She wants students to look at historical eras — say the Harlem Renaissance — and consider how gay men and women had an impact. She also wants students to see how the LGBT community has been portrayed in pop culture, in the movies, in history.
“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” to where they came from.
Schlax got a grant to pay for 40 audio and video players so students can listen to podcasts or watch videos related to the content. Those might include clips from the old “Odd Couple” television show or of Disney villains with speech patterns associated with gay men to show how Hollywood has dealt with gay stereotypes through the decades.
Having a course like this in high school would have been literally life-changing for me. I hope it has the same effect on the lucky kids who get to experience it, and that it becomes the standard in every school in the country. Seeing yourself in your education matters. A lot.