Maryland schools adding LGBT, disability rights to classroom curricula

A curriculum change is coming for Maryland students. Schools will start including LGBT and disability rights in social studies classes.

A spokesman for Maryland State Department of Education said Thursday that MSDE is already in the process of doing the curriculum update.

The idea came from a group of state legislators who wrote a letter to MSDE saying social studies curricula should cover the LGBT and disability rights movements.

Montgomery Co. Del. Eric Luedtke spearheaded the effort.

“It’s about time that we tell the whole story of America, and there’s a lot, even as an adult, that I had to learn about the disability rights movement because it was so recent, because it wasn't taught in history classes,” said Luedtke. “It’s important that we teach the whole story and not leave anyone out.”

MSDE said it could not provide information on what exactly this will look like, and it’s unclear if the curriculum change will impact just high school students or younger students as well.

Maryland is joining just a handful of other states that require schools to teach gay rights.

Right now, different states are looking at a variety of ways to update what they’re teaching in schools, and some proposals have come with controversy.

In California, an ethnic studies curriculum got a lot of backlash from people claiming it was anti-Jewish and anti-Israel, including the Jewish caucus of the California legislature.

Just this week, California’s state board of education said the new curriculum fell short and needed to be substantially redesigned.

Over in New York, the state has just adopted a new policy to make schools more inclusive and highlight more cultures.

Maria Ferguson, Executive Director of the Center on Education Policy at George Washington University said expect curriculums to continue evolving. Ferguson said such changes can be positive for students, but they need to be implemented correctly. 

“Sometimes it's the process by which these curricula are rolled out that are upsetting to people,” said Ferguson. “Sometimes it’s the actual curricula itself. It’s not uncommon and it’s probably not going to stop happening. It's the process of structuring the public discourse and conversation about it in a way that makes the whole community feel like they’re at least being heard, even if the end result isn't exactly what  they want." 

MSDE said the state board of education will vote on the proposed changes sometime during this coming school year. If people want to weigh in, they would have to show up for the board's meeting in Baltimore.