Last month, you may have heard that a student’s LGBTQ pride mural was painted over at Bergen Arts & Science Charter School (BASCS) after the school’s landlord, a Catholic church, urged the school to remove it.
Garden State Equality immediately took action to ensure LGBTQ student voices were affirmed and that our LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum law would be protected when it goes into effect in the fall of 2020, and on Friday last week, I met with administrators, educators, and students at the school and facilitated a restorative practice dialogue. As a group, we collaboratively developed several constructive solutions to ensure those goals.
The school will be taking several actions, but most significantly, I’m proud to tell you that BASCS will be one of roughly a dozen schools where Garden State Equality will be test-piloting LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, which we are actively developing, a year before the law goes into effect.
I’d also like to say thank you to Breanna and Mila, the students who painted the mural, for speaking out against this injustice and creating real, lasting change for their school.
One of Garden State Equality’s top priorities is ensuring that LGBTQ students feel safe, affirmed, and supported, and to the school’s credit, the administration unequivocally embraced the positive and constructive solutions proposed by students and educators during our dialogue. That wouldn’t have happened without the voices of Breanna and Mila in the room.
New Jersey’s LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum law is going to be a life-changing experience for our youth by ensuring the political, social, and economic contributions of our community are represented in classrooms, and we are committed to building robust and comprehensive curriculum that lifts up and inspires the next generation.
With the current law, local school boards are required to develop and implement the curriculum, which is a costly and burdensome task, but once we finish developing and test-piloting the curriculum, we will be offering it to every school district in New Jersey for free. We’ll also be providing “curriculum coaches” to train educators and ensure it is successfully implemented.
Thank you for helping us continue to build safe schools all across New Jersey. Our youth are depending on us, and we can only do this work because of your support.
Safe Schools & Community Education Manager
Garden State Equality
PS — Garden State Equality is currently hiring a Safe Schools Coordinator and four curriculum writers. Please visit our website to learn more and apply: www.GardenStateEquality.org/employment