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Houston ISD superintendent proposes including LGBTQ history in curriculum

Jun 21, 2017 by

By Shelby Webb –

As questions about transgender and gay rights continue to roil the Texas Legislature while it prepares for a July special session, Houston ISD Superintendent Richard Carranza proposed adding LGBTQ studies to the district’s existing U.S. history curriculum.

Speaking Tuesday at a community meeting hosted by the Houston Defender, a publication that focuses on the area’s black community, Carranza said including LGBTQ – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer – and ethnic studies in history curriculum will show students a broader picture of America’s past.

“The LGBTQ movement in the U.S. has a history, and in many cases, many people would call it a civil rights history in terms of acceptance and in terms of who have been leaders of the movement,” Carranza said. “I think it’s part of the American history. To include that as part of what kids study is just a bigger picture of who we are as America.”

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Only in California are schools required to include the contributions of gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and queer people as part of social studies curriculum, thanks to a 2011 law. Texas, however, mandates that education programs “state that homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle,” according to the Texas Health and Safety Code. Another rule within the health and safety code encourages school districts to emphasize “that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public.”

It is unclear whether adding LGBTQ history to U.S. history courses would be at odds with those existing state rules.

Carranza’s proposal comes as state legislators prepare to debate which restrooms transgender students and teachers should use on public school campuses during a special legislative session slated to begin in July.

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Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have been outspoken in supporting laws that would require transgender people to use the restroom that matches their birth certificate at public schools and universities.

Although Abbott, Patrick and other social conservatives pushed for the so-called bathroom bill during the Legislature’s regular session earlier this year, the proposal died after moderate Republicans in the House balked at determining how far-reaching such a bill should be.

Some feared economic and political repercussions similar to those experienced in North Carolina after that state passed a law in 2016 requiring transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificates rather than the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

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While opponents of the bathroom bill say it will codify discrimination against transgender people and will open school districts up to civil rights lawsuits, those who favor it say it will protect the privacy and comfort of the majority of students who do not identify as transgender.

Source: Houston ISD superintendent proposes including LGBTQ history in curriculum – Houston Chronicle

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