MCPS develops first elective class on LGBTQ+ history

Arya Ramachandran, Staff Writer

Montgomery County Public Schools is spreading awareness with the development of the district’s first comprehensive elective class on LGBTQ+ history. It will be piloted in spring 2021 after being planned.

The pilot course, currently registered as an elective, is expected to roll out to 10 high schools in the spring of 2021. Tiferet Ani, a social studies instructional specialist in the school district’s central offices, is in charge of the development of the course. “[The coursework will include studies about] LGBTQ history, its representation in film and art, current events and sociology,” according to Ani.

The elective will explore LGBTQ+ identity, history and culture. According to Ani, “In unit one students will examine the factors that shape identity, with a focus on intersectionality. In unit two students will investigate which voices are included in the historical narrative by exploring the resistance and resilience of the LGBTQ+ community in the U.S. Unit three focuses on the cultural contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals and their representation in media. Unit four will engage students in examining and addressing contemporary challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals locally, nationally and globally.”

The course has generated great interest and is being supported by teaching resources across the district. Ani said, “the course is being developed now for use as early as next spring” and“the course is being developed with both teacher and student input, including members of MoCo Pride.”

Various schools have expressed interest in this pilot course, which is quite unusual for a new class. According to Maria Navarro, MCPS Chief Academic Officer, two to three schools will come to administrators with a request to test out a new class, but in this case “10 high schools” have expressed interest.

The initiative of the course is to celebrate those who identify as part of the community and increase awareness among students who may not be as informed about the LGBTQ+ community, overall. According to Ani, “I think that we need students that identify as LGBTQ+ to see themselves and to know their identity is celebrated, not just accepted, and to know people like them have helped shape our history and culture.”
MCPS staff members recently attended the Time To Thrive conference in Washington, D.C. According to Bethesda Magazine, this event, “sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign,” will “bring together students, educators and activists from across the country to raise awareness and cultural competency about LGBTQ students’experiences.”

The school district plans to host a meeting at Walter Johnson in partnership with the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations to discuss the upcoming course details on Apr. 25. According to Bethesda Magazine, this meeting will be the district’s “second annual LGBTQ forum.”