The LGBT rights movement in this country has come a very long way over the course of the past several decades. The movement had successfully managed to inspire legislative, cultural, and societal change to a degree that would have likely been unimaginable at the time of the 1969 Stonewall riots that had forcefully pushed the issue of LGBT rights into mainstream society. Although progress on some issues of interest to the movement—such as the legalization of same-sex marriage—has been gradual, we have reached a point wherein the majority of the most important objectives of this movement have been successfully met. However, there remains much to be accomplished, particularly on the cultural level. Discrimination, bigotry, and the commission of hate crimes remain prominent issues that the LGBT rights movement continues to fight against. Unfortunately, inspiring cultural change in order to eliminate these problems is a rather difficult task, and one that requires an educational campaign at the forefront.
A great deal of anti-LGBT discrimination, bigotry, and hate crimes are certainly the result of (or are at least influenced by) an ignorance of LGBT issues, people, and history. Reducing that ignorance through education has been found to diminish levels of discomfort towards the LGBT community and in turn reduce instances of the aforementioned problems that continue to hinder further progress for the LGBT rights movement (Damante). It is therefore both logical and reasonable to argue that the movement’s current needs in addressing these problems lie within increasing access to education that serves to reverse the prominence of ignorance towards the LGBT community. For the LGBT rights movement to successfully adhere to this objective, it must establish an advocacy program that operates on a local level in order to push for more inclusive curriculums in our nation’s school systems. Although certain states and localities have already moved to establish more inclusive curricula, with California being a noteworthy example, the vast majority of this country does not serve to educate its youths and citizens about the LGBT community (Andrews). Changes to curricula typically requires action on the part of the legislature, and is therefore unlikely to act without being provided a motivation to do so. An advocacy program that specifically targets improving education in this regard is therefore essential to addressing the root cause of the aforementioned problems continuously facing the LGBT community and hindering the progress of the LGBT rights movement. Such a program must work to advocate for individual localities to modify their curricula, considering the current political climate at the federal level.
As we currently experience a Republican Presidency under Donald Trump, our educational system needs such an advocacy program now more than ever. The social agenda of the Republican Party at present aims to take the LGBT rights movement backwards in time, with public education serving as no exception as a mechanism in the attempt to reach this goal. Current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been found to have ties to anti-LGBT groups that strongly signal her own expected role in resisting educational changes that inspire inclusion of the LGBT community and its history (Macias). Fighting back against DeVos and other anti-LGBT aspects of this current administration represents a significant challenge to the LGBT rights movement. Coupled with the cultural backlash against political correctness, progressivism, and the LGBT community by extension, establishing an activist program targeting education represents perhaps one of the only hopes in preventing a resurgence of anti-LGBT hate in American society (Twitty). More importantly, however, it would represent a positive change in fostering an improvement in education among youth. This change will ultimately allow them to develop views and opinions on LGBT rights and the LGBT community that is no longer based on ignorance and a one-sided and heavily religious perspective.
- Andrews, Becca. “California Now Has an LGBT-Inclusive Curriculum.” Mother Jones, 19 July 2016, www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/07/california-lgbt-history-lessons/.
- Damante, Rebecca. “Can Education Reduce Prejudice against LGBT People?” The Century Foundation, 16 June 2016, tcf.org/content/commentary/can-education-reduce-prejudice-lgbt-people/.
- Macias, Kelly. “Betsy DeVos Shows Her Bigotry as Anti-LGBT Groups Are Allowed to Speak at the Education Department.” Daily Kos, Kos Media, LLC, 16 June 2017, www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/6/16/1672401/-Betsy-DeVos-shows-her-bigotry-as-anti-LGBT-groups-are-allowed-to-speak-at-the-Education-Department.
- Twitty, Michael W. “We Must Fight the American South’s Return to Bigotry of the Past.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 18 Apr. 2016, www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2016/apr/18/america-south-bigotry-coalition-lgbt-springsteen.