My Old High School Is One of the Few in America to Teach LGBT History

Illustration for article titled My Old High School Is One of the Few in America to Teach LGBT History

Here’s a fun fact about me: I went to an arts high school. Here’s another fun fact: that high school is now San Francisco’s first to create an LGBT history course that will meet requirements for admission to the UC system.


It’s also really fucking awesome that this class exists. Why? Because even at an arts high school (kind of like the one out of Fame but with more asbestos), coming out was a painful, difficult, and lonely process. This class could be a huge step in making LGBT kids more comfortable with themselves and proud of their history while teaching both allies and people who know nothing about LGBT history how to separate “fact from fiction.”

The class, which will be offered at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (or SOTA for short) will focus on the struggles faced by the LGBT community as well as the contributions that the community has made to society. It will not, as some people always worry when gays and lesbians are brought up, be teaching kids how to have sex. Will the relationships of historical figures be covered? Probably, but The Washington Post reports that school officials want to make it very clear that this isn’t a class on “how to have sex” but a legitimate history course. That’s a little ridiculous, because no one had to warn me that AP European History wouldn’t explicitly be about the sexual exploits of kings and queens. But hey, at least we have this class now. Progress!

Below is a video description of the class posted to the school’s website by Lyndsey Schlax, who will also be teaching the course. “This is history. This is an experience that happened,” Schlax told The San Francisco Chronicle. “How can we not teach history? That’s what we do.”

“Or, how did World War II help create the gay enclave in San Francisco?” Schlax said. “It has to do with how the war ended — people ending up in San Francisco after. People finding each other. People not necessarily wanting to return to where they came from.”

The course will be an interactive multimedia experience that will expose students not only to history but to the way that sexual orientation and gender identity are treated in popular culture. From The Chronicle:

Schlax got a grant to pay for 40 audio and video players so students can listen to podcasts or watch videos related to the content. Those might include clips from the old “Odd Couple” television show or of Disney villains with speech patterns associated with gay men to show how Hollywood has dealt with gay stereotypes through the decades.

Current events will also play a prominent role, she said.

While the semester-long course will be an elective (to be coupled with another elective in ethnic studies), commenters on The Chronicle’s website are already worried that it will mostly be gay propaganda and students being taught that gay sex is best—even though it’s clearly stated what this course will and won’t be about; why is it that people who aren’t participants in/are against gay sex are always the most interested discussing it forever on message boards??? And hey, if it stops even one kid from asking whether they can catch gay from eating brownies baked by the flamboyant kids in the school’s book club (actually happened, shoutout to class of ‘02), then it will have been a success.

You know, I’m not one of those people who ever went back to my high school to visit (those kids were weird, right?), but maybe I’ll watch Never Been Kissed again and try to crash the course once the semester starts. I have double-pierced ears; I can fit in, right? (Also, I have no school spirit, but am absolutely pulsing with pride right now!)

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Judgmental Chickens

I love that about SOTA!!!

Off topic- for a school of the arts, why in the hell is the backstage of the theater such a horrifying disaster? I would arrive in costume so as not to have to venture into the dressing rooms.