LGBTQ+ Studies elective: what you need to know

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

by Isabella Majarowitz

(Photo: Pixabay.)

Did you know that earlier this year MCPS passed an LGBTQ+ Studies elective?

If you’re like me, you might have been jumping for joy at the prospect of taking a class that speaks to your identity and experiences. However, not everyone is aware that MCPS will be offering this crucial course, so I will serve as your guide to the course curriculum, as well as the advocacy and work that went into this huge win for LGBTQ+ students.

The idea for this elective was first brought by an attendee of the MCPS LGBTQ+ Forum in May 2019. From there, members of the student organization MoCo Pride, teachers, and parents advocated for months to ensure the MCPS Board of Education passed the course. After that was accomplished, a dedicated group of students and teachers worked together throughout the spring and summer of 2020 to develop the curriculum.

To me, that student involvement was key, because it allowed us to have a say in what this essential class will look like. Now the developers of the course are working on getting feedback on the curriculum, and pushing all MCPS high schools to offer the elective in the Fall of 2021.

While the course adoption is an interesting story, you’re probably most interested in what the course will actually cover. The LGBTQ+ Studies elective has been divided into four Units that will explore LGBTQ+ history, culture, and experiences, with a focus on intersectional identities. In the first unit, you’ll examine the factors that shape identity, and dive deep into LGBTQ+ identity across time, place, and culture. What I love about this unit is the attention paid to the impact of colonization on gender–it’s a very timely topic to study!

The second unit explores the resilience of the LGBTQ+ community throughout US history, and the forms of resistance that have been employed by the community.

The next unit is meant to be a reflection on how art and cultural expression impact and influence the LGBTQ+ community. This is the unit where you’ll take a look at LGBTQ+ representation in the media, and how it’s changed over time.

The final unit is on contemporary topics such as the inclusion of transgender people in sports, LGBTQ+ civil rights globally, and MCPS policies and traditions.

Something I hope students get out of this course is that LGBTQ+ people exist everywhere, and our experiences are varied.

It’s important to note that all students are welcome to participate in this course. Like many social studies electives, the main purpose of the course is to educate students on a topic, and give space for personal reflection. I assure you that the course was developed with students' privacy and personal experiences in mind; you will not be pressured or asked to share any part of your identity that you don’t wish others to know.

That brings me to our call to action: we need YOU to sign up for this course! While the LGBTQ+ Studies course is already listed on the 2021 Course Guide, a class can only be offered if enough students are registered. So, Northwood students: get the word out, talk to your friends, encourage people to take the course!

I can’t tell you how much it means to me that a course like this can be offered at my school, and I know there are students who feel that same gratitude. Everyone deserves to see themselves represented in their curriculum. This course is the first step.

Please follow Northwood’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) on Instagram (@northwood_gsa) to learn more about the course and the experiences of LGBTQ+ students.

Isabella Majarowitz (she/her) is the leader of Northwood's Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA).