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Activists celebrate new Washington state law requiring LGBTQ+ history in schools

Activists celebrate new Washington state law requiring LGBTQ+ history in schools
Photo: Shutterstock

A bill signed into law by Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee (D) will require schools in the state to teach LGBTQ+ history.

First introduced in January, S.B. 5462 requires school districts to “[incorporate] inclusive curricula and [select] inclusive instructional materials that include the histories, contributions, and perspectives of historically marginalized and underrepresented groups.” That includes “people from various racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, people with differing learning needs, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people … and people with various socioeconomic and immigration backgrounds,” according to the text of the bill.

Under the new law, the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Washington State School Directors’ Association must develop the new inclusive curriculum by June 1, 2025, for introduction during the 2025–2026 school year.

“Our LGBTQ+ youth deserve to see themselves reflected in their education,” the Washington State LGBTQ Caucus wrote in a post on X cheering the new law last week. “And with the signing of #SB5462 into law, that will soon be the reality in public schools across the state.”

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Marko Liias (D), and Danni Askini, Executive Director of National Programs for the Gender Justice League, both pointed to studies showing that students who see themselves represented in their school’s curriculum miss fewer days of school and perform better, according to KOMO News.

However, Brian Noble, Executive Director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, said that the group opposed the bill because it would lead to “the sexualization of children.”

“I think that this is based on a stereotype,” Askini told KOMO News. She argued that simply mentioning LGBTQ+ people is no more a discussion of explicitly sexual matters than mentioning mothers is a discussion of sexual reproduction.

“Acknowledging the existence of LGBT people does not inherently sexualize anybody, and it does not promote sexual behavior,” Askini said.

She also noted that while parents should have a role in the children’s education, LGBTQ+ parents should be included in that discussion as well.

“Those parents should be reflected in the curriculum in our community, which is about, you know, seven to 10% of the population,” Askini said. “We should be able to see ourselves reflected in the educational environment that our children, both LGBT and children who have LGBT parents.”

The idea that LGBTQ+ people are outside or separate from the broader community, she said, is “just absolutely false.”

“Acknowledging the facts of our community, the reality of the world that we live in, and the people that are in that world is not the same as encouraging any type of one type of behavior or one belief,” she added.

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