New Washington state law requires LGTBQ+ history in public schools’ curricula

Public schools in Washington will be required to teach students about the contributions and history of LGBTQ+ people under a new law signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday, March 18. 

Senate Bill 5462 mandates that school districts in Washington adopt curricula that include “diverse, equitable, inclusive, age-appropriate instructional materials” that reflect the history and perspectives of historically underrepresented groups.

State learning standards already direct schools to teach students about the historical perspectives of some marginalized groups, such as tribal communities and enslaved people, but did not explicitly require lessons covering LGBTQ+ histories. 

“The contributions of gay Washingtonians deserve recognition, and just as importantly, students deserve to see themselves in their schoolwork,” Sen. Marko Liias, a Democrat from Edmonds who sponsored the bill, said in a statement. “That leads to better attendance, better academic achievement and better overall quality of life, ensuring success for all our students.”

Benefits of education

In schools where students learned about LGBTQ+ people, history and events, LGBTQ+ students were less likely to hear homophobic or transphobic remarks and less likely to miss school because they felt unsafe, according to a 2021 national survey from GLSEN, an LGBTQ+ education advocacy group. Those students also had better mental health and academic performance, the survey found.

Additionally, LGBTQ+ middle and high school students who learned about LGBTQ+ history or people in class reported lower rates of suicide attempts in the last year, according to a 2023 study from the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ+ youth.  

Read more from The Seattle Times.

By Kirk Heynen (He/Him)
Kirk Heynen (He/Him) Career Coach