New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a new bill into law on Thursday (31 January) requiring LGBTI-inclusive education across the state.
Per the governor’s website, requires boards of education in the state to ‘include instruction, and adopt instructional materials, that accurately portray political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people’.
The policy will go into effect in the 2020-21 school year.
Teachers, using the provided materials, will start teaching students about significant contributions made by LGBTI people and people with disabilities. It is unclear if the policy applies solely to history classes, or other subjects such as literature.
Christine Lee, Murphy’s spokesperson, said in a statement to the Huffington Post: ‘Governor Murphy was honored to sign legislation requiring New Jersey school districts to teach about the rich contributions and accomplishments of our LGBTQ community and those with disabilities.
‘The Governor believes that ensuring students learn about diverse histories will help build more tolerant communities and strengthen educational outcomes.’
Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D), a primary sponsor of the bill, thanked the governor on Twitter.
Thank you @GovMurphy for signing A1335/S1569 into law today. It is my hope that with this legislation signed into law we can foster new generations of students that understand the importance of tolerance and equality. https://t.co/w8QKjVsbnG
— Valerie Huttle (@valerie_huttle) January 31, 2019
Christian Fuscarino, the executive director of the group Garden State Equality, released a statement about the groundbreaking legislation:
‘It’s critical that our classrooms highlight the achievements of LGBTQ people throughout history. Our youth deserve to see how diverse American history truly is — and how they can be a part of it one day, too.’
Making education more inclusive
New Jersey follows in the footsteps of states like California and Massachusetts in offering inclusive education.
So far, however, only California and New Jersey’s new curriculums are law.
In 2017, California adopted 10 new inclusive textbooks as part of their 2011 Fair Education Act. They become the first state in the US to make such a move.
Illinois introduced a similar bill to New Jersey’s but it remains in stasis and has not been made into law.
Massachusetts, meanwhile, created a new inclusive curriculum but it is optional for schools to adopt it, unless it’s mandated at the local level.
Gov. Murphy signed several other bills into law in New Jersey on Thursday. Another one pertaining to education is the requirement that schools include instruction on consent regarding physical contact and sexual activity for grades 6-12.