School to teach students about LGBT history

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A public high school in San Francisco is set to launch an LGBT history class in the new academic year.

Ruth Asawa School of the Arts is one of the few public high schools in the United States to offer an LGBT social studies class – and the new course has been met with great excitement.

The course will focus on topics such as the gay rights movements, the AIDS crisis, the lives of LGBT activists and historic events such as the Stonewall Riots or the Harlem Renaissance.

Lyndsey Schlax – who will be running the course – has said: “This is history. This is an experience that happened. How can we not teach history?”

She is also tailoring the class to allow for a focus on the LGBT community in the San Francisco area itself. She gave an example to the San Francisco Chronicle in regards to how World War II helped set up the gay scene in the city: “It has to do with how the war ended – people ending up in San Francisco after. People finding each other. People not necessarily wanting to return to where they came from.”

The course was meant to start running in 2010. However when the recession hit, the motion was put on hold due to budget cuts put in place by the school board.

Luckily funding has returned and Ms Schlax was also given a budget for 40 audio and video players, allowing her curriculum to involve multimedia – widening the teaching methods.

These players will allow her to look at LGBT representation in the current media and much more – such as how many Disney villains have speech patterns associated with gay men, leading to discussion on Hollywood’s use of gay stereotypes.

Sandra Fewer, a member of the school board, has discussed how she wants schemes and classes such as this set up in ever school in the district and not just art schools.

“As the mother of a gay child, I’m very sensitive to the issues of our LGBT youth,” she said. The course offers “a deeper understanding. It separates fact from fiction.”

Representatives of the course and the school have made clear that they are not teaching “gay sex 101”. There is no instruction on how to have sex.

The board member stated: “People always think it’s about sex. It’s not about sex.”