Following California, New Jersey is the second state in America to require LGBTQ history to be in taught in schools.
The announcement was made after Gov. Phil Murphy, whose Democratic campaign highlighted equality for gay and transgender people, signed the bill on Thursday. The news has been met with a positive response by many. Jaime Bruesehoff—the mother of 12-year-old transgender child Rebekah, who spoke in support of the bill in December—is especially excited.
“This bill is so important for our young people,” Bruesehoff told NorthJersey.com. “They need to see examples of themselves in the history being taught and in classes they are going to each day. We know representation matters.”
She added, “By learning about LGBTQ people who have made amazing contributions to their country, they are seeing possibilities for themselves and hope for the future.”
While the bill does not apply to private schools, it’s still a step in the right direction in giving kids a thorough history of the United States. It also “fosters respect and connectivity and develops a culture and climate where everyone feels safe,” Kathryn Dixon, Northern New Jersey policy coordinator of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network said.
According to the results of a survey conducted by GLSEN, many students still feel harassed at school—despite an anti-bullying law put in place in 2011. They also reported that students didn’t feel protected by existing school policies.
“Students are definitely feeling the impact of a growing sense of intolerance in our country. However, I also think there is hope,” Dinean Robinson, the board chairwoman for the Northern New Jersey chapter of GLSEN, said last month.
As other schools take strides in protecting LGBTQ youth, we hope to see other states implement similar bills in the near future.
Read more about Jersey’s new law here.