A California public high school will teach a course on gay history starting this fall–the first one in the country.
The Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco recently announced an LGBT social studies course, which will cover the gay rights movement, the AIDS epidemic, and the lives of gay activists. Roughly 30% of Ruth Asawa students identify as gay.
The course will be eligible as a college preparatory class for the University of California system–meaning it will count towards elective credit for those students applying to any of the UC schools.
“This is history,” explained Ruth Asawa teacher Lyndsey Schlax, who will teach the class. “This is an experience that happened. How can we not teach history? That’s what we do.”
Schlax plans to look at historic eras through a gay lens, analyzing the role of gay men and lesbians in history–and is determined to make sure this class is available to every school in the school district.
But Schlax made clear that this class is a history course–it won’t include some of the most controversial parts of sex education.
“People always think it’s about the sex. It’s not about sex,” she said. “What drove those movements was making the world a better place, a more peaceful place.”
The gay history course comes at a time where more traditional ways of teaching history are under attack.
Last year, the College Board–the nonprofit that manages both the SATs and the Advanced Placement courses–replaced its AP U.S. History course outline with a new framework that attracted immediate criticism for taking a cynical, anti-American view of United States history.