Many who support same-sex marriage and gay rights argue that, since Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, He did not consider it to be sinful. After all, the argument goes, if homosexuality is bad, why did Jesus treat it as a non-issue?
It is technically true that Jesus did not specifically address homosexuality in the Gospel accounts; however, He did speak clearly about sexuality in general. Concerning marriage, Jesus stated, “At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh[.]’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:4–6). Here Jesus clearly referred to Adam and Eve and affirmed God’s intended design for marriage and sexuality.
For those who follow Jesus, sexual practices are limited. Rather than take a permissive view of sexual immorality and divorce, Jesus affirmed that people are either to be single and celibate or married and faithful to one spouse of the opposite gender. Jesus considered any other expression of sexuality sinful. This would include same-sex activity.
A picture book for second graders about a family with two moms. A lesson for fourth graders about Gold Rush era stagecoach driver Charley Parkhurst, who was born a woman but lived as a man.Charley Parkhurst, a legendary stagecoach driver during California’s Gold Rush, also known as “One-Eyed Charley” is seen in this illustration image, released by Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz, California, U.S., on May 2, 2019. Courtesy Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History/Handout via REUTERS
These are just some of the ways U.S. public school students will learn about LGBTQ – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender queer – history in a growing number of states moving to mandate inclusive K-12 curriculum. It is the latest chapter in a decades-long push to teach students about the trials and contributions of marginalized communities – from suffragettes to black Americans – whose stories have often been absent from classrooms.
At the forefront is California where the curriculum became law in 2011. New Jersey became the second state in January, limiting its mandate to middle- and high-school students.
On Thursday, Colorado lawmakers voted to mandate LGBTQ curriculum for K-12 public school students. Governor Jared Polis, the nation’s first openly gay governor, will review the final bill before deciding whether to sign it into law, a spokeswoman said.
“Our intent was to start teaching the history of everybody,” said Colorado Representative Brianna Buentello, who co-sponsored the bill, which mandates LGBTQ-inclusive courses a requirement for high school graduation.
“It’s a very different story that’s being told than the one, as minorities, we live every single day,” said Buentello, a public school teacher in Pueblo, Colorado.
New Jersey has become the second state in the nation after California to adopt a law that requires schools to teach about LGBT history in a move hailed by civil rights groups as a step toward inclusion and fairness.
Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who promised to promote equality for gay and transgender people during his campaign, signed the bill Thursday. Among those celebrating the news was Jaime Bruesehoff, of Vernon, whose 12-year-old transgender child Rebekah spoke in support of the bill in Trenton in December.
In California, eight years after the mandate was signed into law, known as the FAIR Education Act, many teachers are just beginning to incorporate LGBTQ history into their classrooms.
In 2017, the state took a major step by approving history textbooks that include the mandated material. While the textbooks are optional, schools receive financial assistance from the state to purchase them.
Some approved textbooks include eighth grade lessons about two-spirits, people revered in many Native American cultures because they were believed to embody both masculine and feminine spirits, before Native American gender roles were largely stamped out by Spanish and English colonization.
Despite these inroads, the Golden State is still grappling with making sure all public school students learn LGBTQ history. One challenge has been instructing teachers, who may have never learned LGBTQ history themselves.
Ages three and six, would begin reading books about transgender people in first and second grade, long before she may be ready to talk to her children at home about gender and sexuality.
LGBTQ student rights
- LGBTQ students have a right to be who they are and express themselves in public schools.
- Public schools should not “out” students to their families.
- Public schools have a responsibility to create a safe learning environment. They cannot ignore harassment based on a student’s appearance or behavior. Students should report harassment or threats to a principal or counselor. This puts the school on notice that officials can be held legally responsible for not protecting students.
- Public schools cannot force students to wear clothing inconsistent with their gender identity.
- If a public school permits any noncurricular clubs — clubs that aren’t directly related to classes taught in the school — then it must allow students to form a Gay-Straight Alliance or other LGBTQ-themed clubs, and the school can’t treat it differently from other noncurricular clubs.
- Students’ transgender status and gender assigned at birth are confidential information protected by federal privacy law. If your school reveals that information to anyone without your permission, it could be violating federal law. If you don’t want school officials revealing your private information to others, including your legal name, tell them very clearly that you want your information kept private and that they should not disclose that information to anyone without your consent.
- Some states and cities explicitly protect the right of transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. Additionally, several courts have ruled that excluding transgender boys and girls from using the same restrooms as other boys and girls violates federal education law. This is an area of the law that is changing a great deal right now. We recommend that you contact the ACLU if you have any questions about your rights at school.
The rights of pregnant students
- Public schools and all schools that get federal funds are prohibited from excluding pregnant or parenting students from school, classes, or extracurricular activities, or pressuring them to drop out or change schools.
- These schools must provide pregnant students the same accommodations that students with other temporary medical conditions are given, including the ability to make up missed classwork, attend doctor’s appointments, take time off for childbirth and recovery, and learn in a safe, nonjudgmental environment.
- These schools are not allowed to punish a student who chooses to terminate a pregnancy or reveal a student’s private medical information.