New York Democratic Committee calls on state to implement LGBTQIA+ curriculum

A resolution passed by New York State Democrats injects some momentum into an existing proposal to establish inclusive curriculum in schools.
A resolution passed by New York State Democrats injects some momentum into an existing proposal to establish inclusive curriculum in schools.
AP Photo/Lauren Petracca

While some states are taking bold steps to broadly erase queer and trans people from educational institutions, New York State Democratic Committee members approved a resolution calling for LGBTQIA+ inclusive K-12 curriculum in public schools.

The resolution, passed during the May 11 general meeting, is non-binding and does not actually change policies in New York schools, but it sends a strong signal to the State Legislature and governor and injects some momentum into an existing proposal to establish inclusive curriculum in schools.

Advocates have spent years pushing for changes to the curriculum to become more inclusive of LGBTQ people, including in the context of sex education. An LGBTQ curriculum bill has been re-introduced in the State Legislature multiple times over the last several years. Out State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal of Manhattan is the lead sponsor of the bill, S2428, in the upper chamber, while State Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright has carried the bill in the lower house.

That legislative proposal, however, has failed to move forward in the State Legislature, prompting the State Democratic Committee to bring some urgency to the issue with the resolution encouraging the state government to update the education law to direct the New York State Commissioner of Education to incorporate age-appropriate curriculum pertaining to the history of the LGBTQ community and the cultural significance of it. The resolution — authored by Democratic state committee member John Scott of Queens’ 34th Assembly District — resembles the bill introduced by Hoylman-Sigal.

One particularly notable statistic mentioned in the resolution points to the dire need for inclusive education: Less than 20% of students are taught any positive representations of LGBTQIA+ people, history, or events, according to GLAAD.

The resolution cites the state-by-state attacks on trans youth — including Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” policy — as a driving force behind the danger facing LGBTQ youth. It stresses that “these discriminatory policies and practices follow a dangerous and effective political playbook of targeting and dehumanizing a vulnerable category of people, then legally depriving them of their Constitutional rights, thereby gradually normalizing authoritarian control over democratic legislatures and public accommodations like schools.”

The resolution also highlights mental health disparities impacting the LGBTQ community as a key reason why affirming environments are necessary in school settings.

“Today’s passage of the resolution supporting LGBTQIA+-inclusive K-12 curriculum marks a historic milestone for our state,” Scott said in a written statement. “As we witness other states passing damaging ‘Don’t Say Gay’ laws, we in New York have chosen a different path, one that affirms the identity and experience of our queer youth. Merely opposing such damaging laws is not enough; we have a responsibility to ensure that our young people feel seen, affirmed, and supported. This means implementing proactive measures that uplift their identities and histories.”

Hoylman-Sigal praised the committee members after they passed the resolution. 

“Radical right-wing politicians nationwide are trying to roll back LGBTQ rights — and far too many are succeeding,” he said. “There are currently 474 anti-LGBTQ bills in statehouses across the country, including right here in New York State, challenging us to do more to protect our LGBTQ community and youth. Studies show that young people who learn about intolerance are less likely to engage in intolerant behaviors themselves, which is why we must teach our students about the historic treatment and accomplishments of the LGBTQ community. I applaud The New York State Democratic Committee’s resolution today supporting legislation I have in the senate. Our bill (S2428) would require schools in New York, home to the 1969 Stonewall riots and the 1966 Julius’ Sip-In, to include LGBTQ awareness into their curriculum or instruction. Passing our bill will ensure that we remember our past so that we don’t forget and repeat it — and it will declare, loudly and proudly, that New York does say gay.”

Out Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas of Queens echoed Hoylman-Sigal’s support for the resolution, adding, “It’s time for the legislature to pass the bill and bring more hope and representation to the classroom.”

Elisa Crespo, the executive director of New Pride Agenda, said the resolution is especially critical in light of attacks on LGBTQ Americans — including book bans intended to limit the availability of information about the community’s contributions to society.

“New York is LGBTQ history,” Crespo said. “Queer and trans students – as well as Allies — deserve to know about our community’s rich history. The New Pride Agenda urges the legislature to demonstrate similar courage and codify inclusive curriculum.”