Education beyond Stonewall 50

Education beyond Stonewall 50

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The 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots is finally upon us after a month-long venture engaging with LGBTQIA-plus history — what a journey it has been. Every news source and media outlet is covering the historic event, featuring LGBTQ history lessons and features on our community’s heroes.

New Jersey passed a law requiring “middle and high schools to include lessons about the political, economic and social contributions of LGBT individuals” becoming the second state, alongside California, to pass such legislation.

Education is important. Our community is embracing it and bringing other important events into focus as well, such as the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot. As a community, we are in conversation about our history and future. We are recognizing the work that’s been done and the work left to do.

Amid the celebrations of both Pride month and Stonewall’s 50th anniversary, GLAAD released its fifth annual Accelerating Acceptance Index — “a unique index to measure Americans’ attitudes toward LGBTQ people and issues” — on Monday.

After three years of increased acceptance of the queer community, 2018 data showed a decline, prompting gay rights orgs around the nation to ramp up advocacy. This year, most statistics remained stable, but the survey showed Millennials and Generation Z (ages 18-34) are less “comfortable” with LGTBQ issues.

In all scenarios offered by GLAAD, an eight-point drop in acceptance was the average for the age group. With a 9-percent drop in acceptance, the most of any scenario, 18-34 year-olds responded they were uncomfortable “learning my child had a lesson on LGBT history in their school.”

During a time when the LGBTQ population is embracing history, we find that young people — those that may represent progress — are uncomfortable with LGBTQ history.

Surely it is the perfect time to continue to embrace history. Hopefully states follow California and New Jersey’s lead and begin educating youth about LGBTQ history. Awareness is necessary to eradicate fear.

The GLAAD study also found 80 percent of Americans support equal rights for the LGBTQ community. While we can’t know exactly, it’s certain nowhere near that percentage supported LGBTQ equality in 1969. After all, Kansas was the first state — in 1969 — to rewrite sodomy laws to only apply to gay people.

We have those who were before us to thank for the freedom we have now. Let’s continue on this road after Stonewall’s landmark anniversary and give our community more events to celebrate in 50 years. 

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