San Francisco High School One of First to Offer LGBT History Course


A public high school in San Francisco has decided to offer a new course on LGBT studies beginning this fall, making the course one of the first of its kind to be offered at the high school level.

The Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco will begin to offer the college preparatory course, titled “LGBT Studies,” that plans to “explore the American experience through a lens that isn’t usually discussed in traditional U.S. history classes” this fall.  The class will focus on the gay rights movement and explore the legalization of same-sex marriage, the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy used by the military, and major historical events including the Stonewall Riot.

“LGBT studies will explore the American experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and agender individuals in the United States and across the world,” said Lyndsey Schlax, a teacher at the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA), in a video uploaded to the school’s Facebook page.

The semester-long class will be broken down into three units beginning with a section on terminology.  The next section will deal with several historical LGBT leaders, including Harvey Milk.  The class will end with a unit pertaining to current individuals who identify as LGBT.

A week will be devoted to transgender issues and how LGBT individuals are portrayed around the world, including persecution and opposition they face.

The course will be partnered with an additional course on ethics studies focusing on minority groups in the United States, including African Americans, Native Americans and Chinese Americans, writes Lindsey Bever for The Washington Post.

The school is the first public high school in San Francisco to offer such a course, which was recently approved by the University of California as a high school course that counts toward admission, reports Taylor Wofford for Newsweek.  Students who fulfill the requirements are ensured eligibility for enrollment into the University of California or California State University.

Of the almost 600 students that attend the school, 28% identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.

“Certainly for those students who identify as LGBTQ the impact of this course could not be underestimated,” Brian Kohn, principal at Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, wrote in an email to the Examiner. “For those students who take the course and don’t identify as LGBTQ, this course will build understanding and compassion that in every case serves us all.”

According to a 2014 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on sexual orientation among American adults, 3.4% reported identifying as something other than straight.  An additional study performed in 2012 by Gallup discovered 3.4% of American adults considered themselves to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

As of mid-June, 25 students had signed up to participate in the course.