In today’s program we discuss curriculum politics in the public school system, and the role they play in establishing a biased and oppressive curriculum that silences lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people throughout history and today. We talk with students, educators, and activists who are committed to furthering social justice for the LGBTQ community, and have participated in the movement towards an LGBTQ inclusive curriculum. We also explore ways in which LGBTQ inclusion can be successful, as with the FAIR Education Act, and one example of a high school LGBTQ literature course that is central to the curriculum and highly enrolled. Through these interviews we see just how powerful an LGBTQ curriculum can be for individual students, but also for the kinds of communities we create when we know our histories, learn from our struggles and come to understand the fluidity and inter-sectionality of our identities.
We speak with Erica Meiners, Northeastern Illinois University Professor, author of The right to be hostile: Schools, prisons and the making of public enemies, and Queer Activist, about some of the barriers to LGBTQ curriculum including the power of heteronormativity. Kaila Kuban, professor of anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, talks with us about the challenge posed to schools as instruments of obedience when LGBTQ opens up the fluidity of our identities, and Kirsten Helmer, Doctoral candidate of Language, Literacy and Culture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, helps us think about both the need for and impediments to LGBTQ inclusive curriculum.
We then speak with Amherst, Massachusetts teacher Sara Barber-Just about her development and teaching of a Gay and Lesbian literature course. Next we talk with Katie Russavage and Grace Findlen-Golden, two Massachusetts high school students about what an LGBTQ inclusive curriculum means to them. And finally, we hear from Rachel Harper, teacher and a founding member of the Chicago based organization ChiQueer about the incredible power of the uncertainty opened up by LGBTQ curriculum.