U.S. Reps. Torres, Balint Reintroduce Legislation Promoting More Inclusive Education of LGBTQI+ and Women’s History

Jun 22, 2023
Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres (NY-15) and Becca Balint (VT-AL) – both Co Chairs of the Congressional Equality Caucus – today reintroduced the “LGBTQI+ and Women’s History Education Act of 2023” following a string of states that have proposed and/or implemented harmful and discriminatory anti-LGBTQI+ education laws.

The bill authorizes the Director of the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution to develop and disseminate resources to classrooms for educators to teach LGBTQI+ and women’s history education in a more inclusive and intersectional manner. Full legislative text can be found here.

“If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it,” said U.S. Rep. Torres (NY-15). “Children today must be provided the opportunity to learn about the incredible contributions and significant impacts of so many heroic trailblazers in the LGBTQI+ and women’s movements. This is especially true at a time when extreme politicians are working overtime to ban books, silence our voices, and censor our history. As the first openly gay Afro-Latino elected to Congress and proud Co-Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, I stand on the shoulders of those who came before me and am committed to working with Rep. Balint to prioritize this legislation because LGBTQI+ and women’s history is American history, and we must teach all of it.”

“Students’ right to an education is facing continued efforts to silence the history and stories of women and LGBTQI+ people. In legislatures across the U.S., book and curriculum bans are erasing trailblazing historical figures and events and preventing students from getting a full and well-rounded education,” said U.S. Rep. Becca Balint (VT-AL). “As a parent and former teacher, I know the importance of education to the health of our communities and democracy. We cannot support the next generation of responsible citizens without understanding the contributions of women and LGBTQI+ people. I’m proud to work alongside Congressman Torres to stand up for an education system that highlights and celebrates our difference rather than censoring them.”

“Today, U.S. Representatives Ritchie Torres and Becca Balint reintroduced the ‘LGBTQI+ and Women’s History Education Act’, which would direct and provide funding to the Smithsonian to create high-quality resources and programming for educators on the histories of LGBTQI+ communities and women using an intersectional approach,” said Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, Executive Director, GLSEN. “Research shows that LGBTQI+ youth who attend schools with inclusive curriculum have higher GPAs, a greater sense of belonging, and are more likely to pursue post-secondary education. We must rise up for LGBTQI+ youth and keep advocating for inclusive education where every young person sees themselves reflected in the classroom and can learn about others who are different.”

“Inclusive learning environments are proven to be important for student learning and development, and for supporting positive school climates, especially for LGBTQI+ students. This is why we’re proud to support the ‘LGBTQI+ and Women’s History Education Act of 2023’, which will support educators to teach history that is intersectional and inclusive of LGBTQI+ people and women,” said Shiwali Patel, Director of Justice for Student Survivors, National Women’s Law Center. “Ensuring that all students see themselves in school curriculum and are able to learn about others is especially critical right now given the ongoing attacks on curriculum and books that teach history, and about race and the LGBTQI+ community.”

Original Cosponsors: Rep. Suzan Bonamici (OR-01), Rep. Shontel Brown (OH-11), Rep. Judy Chu (CA-28), Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Rep. Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), Rep. Sharice Davids (KS-03), Rep. Al Green (TX-09), Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (AZ-07), Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17), Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA-08), Rep. Grace Meng (NY-06), Rep. Kevin Mullin (CA-15), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Rep. Linda Sánchez (CA-38), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Rep. David Scott (GA-13), Rep. Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Rep. David Trone (MD-06), Rep. Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), Rep. Frederica Wilson (FL-24)

Endorsing Organizations: GLSEN, National Women’s Law Center, AACTE, Advocates for Youth, American Association of University Women, American Atheists, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association Services, American School Counselor Association, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, CA LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), CenterLink: The Community of LGBTQ Centers, EDGE Consulting Partners, EducateUS: SIECUS In Action, Education Law Center Pennsylvania, Education Reform Now, Equality California, Family Equality, FORGE, Inc., Gender Spectrum, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ+ Equality, GSA Network, Human Rights Campaign, interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth, Japanese American Citizens League, Legal Momentum, The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, Los Angeles LGBT Center, Movement Advancement Project, National Action Network, National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Parent Leadership, Advocacy, and Community Empowerment (National PLACE), National Center for Transgender Equality, National Council of Jewish Women, National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), National Education Association, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Organization for Women, National Women’s Political Caucus, PFLAG Fresno, PFLAG National, PROMO, School Social Work Association of America, SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change, The Education Trust , The Trevor Project, Trans Maryland, True Colors United

Additional Background: According to the New York Historical Society Museum & Library, only 13% of named historical figures in textbooks across the U.S. are women, and even fewer are women of color.

Between 2021 and 2023, the Movement Advancement Project found nine states passed curriculum censorship laws restricting instruction on LGBTQI+ people and issues, including Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law.

Between 2021 and 2023, the Movement Advancement Project found nine states passed curriculum censorship laws restricting instruction on LGBTQI+ people and issues, including Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law.

As of May 2023, the ACLU reported there have been more than 200 anti-LGBTQI+ school and education bills introduced in state legislatures across the country.

To date, only three states have legislated standards for inclusion of women’s history in elementary, middle, and high school instruction, according to the National Women’s History Alliance.

To date, only seven states have passed legislation in support of LGBTQI+ inclusive curriculum, according to GLSEN.

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