By Laura Dudnick | SF Examiner
So says Lyndsey Schlax, a government, history and economics teacher
at Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts since 2008. Although
Schlax has previously touched on current events in her classes, she’s
certain the first-of-its-kind LGBT studies class next fall will identify
with students more than ever before.
“The overarching theme of the year is the nondominant narrative of
the American experience,” Schlax explained. “[And] I think there is a
lot going on in terms of the advancements of rights for the LGBT
On Tuesday, Schlax finalized the curriculum for the groundbreaking
course, which had 25 students enrolled as of mid-June. The class is an
elective and will last a semester, as well as count toward the San
Francisco Unified School District’s rigorous graduation requirements
that ensure students are eligible for University of California or
California State University.
While the class marks the first on-site LGBT lessons taught in the
SFUSD, the district for years has strived to provide more inclusionary
courses, particularly following a Board of Education resolution approved
in 2010 to expand services for LGBT students. A district-funded course
was offered in 2011 at Lyric, a San Francisco-based LGBT organization
for youths, but that class was only available on Saturdays.
And the latest effort couldn’t come a moment too soon as the nation
faces an LGBT crusade that in some ways mirrors the Civil Rights
Movement of the 1950s and 60s, Schlax noted.
“We’re moving towards marriage equality, we’re moving toward same-sex
couples being able to adopt in all states, we’re moving towards all
sorts of workplace protections,” she said.
The LGBT studies class will be broken into three units, beginning
with basic terminology, followed by identities and the history of LGBT
leaders including the late Supervisor Harvey Milk and the AIDS pandemic
of the 1980s. The third unit will look at the current portrayal of those
who identify as LGBT.
Schlax said there will also be a week to focus on transgender issues
and the perception of LGBT people worldwide, including the opposition
and persecution they face.
The class will include a field trip to San Francisco’s GLBT History
Museum, which will allow students to learn from the museum’s 30-year-old
“The archive was formed in 1985 in the height of the AIDS pandemic
when no one would take our materials because of prejudice,” said Daryl
Carr, acting executive director of the museum.
The museum also offers artwork, pictures, costumes and other artifacts —
including a chair that belonged to Milk — that will give students a
snapshot of various LGBT stories in The City, Carr said.
“It’s as relevant for kids today to know that how freedom is earned by both struggle and triumph,” he added.
Read more at www.sfusd.edu