Montgomery County could make LGBTQ history with Tuesday Board of Education vote

On Tuesday, the Montgomery County’s Board of Education, among other actions, is expected to vote on whether to add an intensive LGBTQ history course, that some advocates believe could be the first of its kind not only for Montgomery County – but also the state and country.  

Several students and parents have been involved in working with educators to write the curriculum for the pilot course. If the BOE approves on Tuesday, FOX 5 is told the course would be offered to some juniors and seniors as an elective. 

One of those students helping to write that curriculum is 16-year-old, Richard Montgomery High School sophomore Uma Fox, who founded the student group “MoCo Pride.” She also led classmates in lobbying the Board of Education for this type of lesson. 

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“I think I’ve grown up never really seeing myself and what I read or what I do. I’m a bi-racial person who is LGBTQ plus I’m a South Asian American and I’ve never really seen those experiences as part of my curriculum and whenever I would read or learn by myself about these things, I would feel this very inherent connection,” said Fox, wondering if fellow classmates felt the same way. 

So many students had advocated for the LGBTQ course, school officials decided to vote on approval Tuesday, instead of waiting until next Fall. 

Ten high schools have requested the course. 

A letter submitted to the BOE says the course would be taught in four units, going over subjects from: “factors that shape identity” to the “cultural contributions of LGBTQ individuals.” 

Mark Eckstein is one of the PTA parents also helping to write the course curriculum. Eckstein is actually the LGBTQ Committee Chair with the Montgomery County Council of PTAs and a member of the LGBTQ community himself. He also has children in the county’s school system and said he was shocked to learn how little LGBTQ history was being taught.

He didn’t name any one specific group, but acknowledged there is usually pushback when it comes to raising LGBTQ issues.  “This course is an elective. So I think that counters a lot of the potential pushback because you don’t have to take the course,” said Eckstein, responding to any complaints from MCPS parents. 

“I think it’ll go a long way to decrease bullying and to also help this vulnerable community,” Eckstein added, “and to also help with some of the challenges that faces this vulnerable community, especially with our students. There’s a huge level of homelessness and mental health issues that are often accompanied with being LGBTQ. So that stigma and just many other situations around this issue, I think will be helped by this pilot course.” 

State-wide, several Maryland lawmakers had already advocated for some of this history to be included in the state curriculum. FOX 5 previously reported that other states were slow to add this education because of protests from some religious parent groups. 

When asked if there was any dissent from members on the Montgomery County Board of Education, a Board Member told FOX 5, “absolutely not.”

If passed, the course could be offered to some MCPS juniors and seniors as early as this time next year.