Through marches, awareness campaigns and other forms of advocacy, Generation Z has proven it is the generation that will set a better path to the future with their new views of society. They are the most inclusive generation when it comes to diversity. So, why isn’t there more LGBTQ+ representation at school?
According to the Advocate, a study from Ipsos Mori suggests “only 66 percent of young people today identify as exclusively heterosexual — which is the lowest of any generation up until this point.” As this trend continues, it is important that younger generations are educated on the subject, whether it be to understand themselves or one another.
Even with this basic information, six states, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas, strictly prohibit any teachings of LGBTQ+ in schools. According to GLSEN, an LGBTQ student advocacy group, “Laws prohibiting the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ (often referred to as as ‘no promo homo’ laws), are local or state education laws that expressly forbid teachers of health/sexuality education from discussing lesbian, gay, or bisexual people or topics in a positive light — if at all.”
The lack of representation only further stigmatizes the LGBTQ+ community. It creates an unwelcoming environment for students. The root of the problem is not the younger generation. According to the Advocate, “Other studies published by Ipsos Mori suggest that over 70 percent of Gen Z is comfortable with homosexual relationships.”
This year, the state Public Education Department is meeting to update the state’s social studies standards for the first time in more than two decades. The New Mexican reported that 60 educators from across the state are meeting to revise curriculum standards in U.S. history and social studies classes. According to The New Mexican, one educator, Wendy Leighton, a founding faculty member of Monte del Sol Charter School, said the state’s current standards do not require students to learn about the history of LQBTQ+ people among other minorities in the United States — a standard she wishes to change.
This would open up opportunities for children and teens to learn history more accurately. It would put into perspective how the LQBTQ+ community integrates with history and why they are still considered minorities.
Marie Fernandez, who teaches at South Valley Academy in Albuquerque, is one of the co-leaders of the group of teachers hoping to change history standards. Together, she and Leighton are looking forward to including more themes, such as social justice, in the curriculum for New Mexico students. This, however, is never an easy thing to do without backlash. Already, Republican legislators and at least one superintendent have raised concerns about the issue.
Older generations, specifically parents of children, are often unsupportive. Many of them believe it’s too early for their kids to be taught these things. Even if parents are concerned about certain aspects that are being taught, that should not be the focus. Kids should be learning about things like gender and sexuality at a young age when they can understand and process information faster. This is not about teaching kids inappropriate things, it’s simply about teaching them to understand other people.
Being part of the LGBTQ+ community is not something that should be stigmatized. Teenagers should not feel like it’s something to hide and be ashamed of. It’s something that becomes part of how they identify and who they are. It should be seen as normal and most importantly, OK. It is important to teach kids about it in school. It would help them feel more welcomed if they knew that their classmates understood and respected the subject. LGBTQ+ representation as well as available help in school is extremely necessary.