New Jersey launches its pilot program for an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum

Garden State Equality Youth Caucus logo

New Jersey schools will have an LGBTQ lesson plan for 2020-2021

Garden State Equality and Make it Better for Youth unveiled a set of free LGBTQ-inclusive lessons and resources for educators and school administrators. The program will be in place for the 2020-2021 school year.

Young people need to see themselves in the lessons we share

In January 2019, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law requiring boards of education to include instruction that accurately portrays the political, economic, and social contributions of LGBTQ people and people with disabilities. New Jersey is the first state to mandate LGBTQ-inclusive materials across all subject areas.

The law takes effect beginning this year. Teachers can visit to access sample lesson plans and other resources. The lesson plans include educational and other materials on LGBTQ topics.

“Creating educational environments that are affirming and inclusive of LGBTQ people is essential to creating a safe school climate for all students,” said Ashley Chiappano, Garden State Equality’s Safe Schools and Community Education Manager. “Young people need to see themselves reflected in their lessons and the stories we share.”

“Accurate, challenging and inclusive education is an educational obligation,” said Kate Okeson, program director of Make It Better for Youth. “This project—these lessons—are about two things: increasing positive outcomes for all students by developing materials that uncover and celebrate histories and identities that had been systematically erased, misrepresented, and devalued, and second, that we cannot wait for these materials to be created for us. It was our duty to make them ourselves.”

Make it Better for Youth and Garden State Equality partnered last year to create lessons and resources for use in a pilot program in 12 schools. They were looking at efficacy, readiness, gaps, and outcomes to provide high-quality lessons that sought to provide models of best practices during the pilot program.

“Input from current educators and educational leaders in the state of New Jersey have been utilized throughout the development of the lessons, sharing of best practices, and outcomes of the study,” said Dr. Lori Burns, a principal in the Neptune Township school district and an adjunct professor at Monmouth University. “These valuable perspectives will be utilized to assist current educators and educational leaders in offering lessons that are accurate and inclusive of the political, economic, and social contributions of LGBTQ individuals.” Burns is also the LGBTQ Inclusive Curriculum Pilot Program Manager for GSE.

“The application of LGBTQ-inclusive lessons will assist public schools in the state of New Jersey in providing safe and affirming school environments for all students and educators,” said Burns. “All students, educators, and families deserve to see themselves reflected in school environments.“

The LGBTQ Inclusive Lessons and Resources Pilot Program consisted of a six-month intensive collaboration with 12 public schools in the state of New Jersey, said the group. The study had utilized a quantitative and qualitative approach to determine best practices regarding LGBTQ-inclusive lesson development, instruction, materials, and supports. The findings of the study will be released later this month.