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New Jersey and Illinois‘ public schools are set to teach LGBTQ history this academic year. Meanwhile, Texas takes a step back in creating LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum and classrooms.

The Texas Board of Education—said to be a Republican-majority board—had turned down Ruben Cortez’s (a Democrat) proposal to require schools to teach an inclusive sex education during the preliminary vote last week, ABC News reports.

With Cortez’s proposal, middle school and high school students will be taught about the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. That being said, the board also found lessons about consent an inappropriate topic for middle school students but the fight is not over yet as the final vote is in November.

As to why Cortez had proposed the changes to the state’s curriculum, he related that his daughter had struggled in accepting her own gender identity. “One of my children this summer came out to us and the fact that she had to bottle that in for years thinking that we wouldn’t accept her.” Cortez added, “It’s difficult to imagine what other students who don’t live in a tolerant house would go through if we don’t insert language like this to help our students.”

Cortez explained that with an inclusive curriculum, he hopes to teach “the importance of treating all people with dignity and respect regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Meanwhile, Carisa Lopez—political director for the Texas Freedom Network—said that by rejecting the proposal, the board members are standing with the bullies instead. She said in a statement to ABC News:

<blockquote>”Imagine the tragic message state board members have sent by refusing to acknowledge that LGBT students even exist in our classrooms. The board had a chance to stand with young people who are looking to feel safe and respected in their schools. A majority of board members chose to abandon them and stand with the bullies instead.”</blockquote>

Texas is one of the six states that have laws actively prohibiting the “promotion of homosexuality.” The other states are Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. 

According to USA Today, 4.1% of Texans identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, which means that Texas has an estimated 858,000 LGBTQ residents. The article added that Texas continues to lack “statewide nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people in virtually all areas, including employment, housing, education, adoption, state employees, and more.”

Texas also allows adoption agencies to deny adoptive services to same-sex couples who want to be parents based on religious beliefs.

Clearly Texas has a long way to go when it comes to being LGTBQ-inclusive; education would have been the first step toward it.

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