Hidden Histories: towards an LGBT history curriculum for California Schools

I was over on Talking Dog this afternoon and reading about how California teachers are having to come up with curriculum fast for a new law that requires them to teach LGBT history in schools.  I don’t think teachers have to overhaul everything—but I do think a quick version might be able to make things better for January.

So I devised Hidden Histories. 

Hidden Histories is based on the premise that lots of histories have been hidden over time—and that gay history, while the most completely submerged, is just one of many.  The curriculum asks that you start off the new year with a framework, but that you don’t have to change any of your curriculum.  The framework, and subsequently turning your students into little detectives, will bridge the interim for you.

The hardest thing facing California teachers, in regards to this law, is that most people, including myself, have never heard gay history.  So requiring teachers to teach it will be difficult unless you teach them gay history first—and provide them some ideas, lesson plans, curriculum. And giving them only till January to comply is hard… I think you should rather that the schools devise a Teacher training day in the spring, to come up with curriculum.

Anyway, over there at the other blog, I gave my ideas–and hopefully people will feel free to use them.

Best reason for this teaching LGBT stuff in classrooms:

“Within the typical secondary school curriculum, homosexuals do not exist. They are ‘nonpersons’ in the finest Stalinist sense. They have fought no battles, held no offices, explored nowhere, written no literature, built nothing, invented nothing and solved no equations. The lesson to the heterosexual student is abundantly clear: homosexuals do nothing of consequence. To the homosexual student, the message has even greater power: no one who has ever felt as you do has done anything worth mentioning.” -Gerald Unks, editor, The Gay Teen, p. 5.


One thought on “Hidden Histories: towards an LGBT history curriculum for California Schools

  1. Amanda McDonald October 18, 2011 / 9:59

    Wow Jerome! Very poignant quote. I think it’s pure irony that there is so little history about homosexuality in high school, because once I entered a postsecondary history program (double major with political science) I ran into homosexuality everywhere in my studies. Even professors tended to only skim the surface, and it’s a study that is undermined at both the student level and the teaching level because there’s not enough information out there nor is there academic studies. Historical homosexuality seems to be discovered “by mistake” and then academics bury it, tiptoe around it or just ignore it. (shaking head.)

    One anecdote I ran into regarding a specific history class I took was related to ancient warfare, a favorite of mine. I thought it interesting that historians have known for a long time that the armies of greece, macedonia and subsequently the Roman empire practiced homosexuality openly. In fact, it was more “manly” to make love to another man, than to make love to a woman. Homosexual relations at the time defined the sexes, in such a different way than they do now. Currently the trend amongst heterosexuals or homophobes are that having sexual relations with someone of the same sex makes you less of a woman or man. For example, women are viewed as “butch,” and men as “fairies.” This teaches something to our youth, something I would rather they didn’t learn.

    I want to thank you Jerome for being a great example to our youth and community as a whole. You’ve generated such respect for yourself both as an artist/writer and as an activist (whether intentioned or not). If my own daughter were to come out to me in the future, I’m glad I know you; not because of your sexual orientation, but rather because you have this aura of self-confidence that I think all of the next generation could stand to learn…

    Thanks Jerome.

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