NAVIGATOR
Advocate for LGBTQ+ youth in K-12 schools

Inclusive Curricular Standards Policies

*Last updated March 24, 2024

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Under affirming statewide curricular standards, K-12 local education agencies develop curriculum that includes positive representations of people who are LGBTQI+; Black, Indigenous, or people of color; people with disabilities, and all those who experience marginalization or erasure.

  • Seven states passed LGBTQI+ inclusive curricular standards laws that set a standard for locally created academic curriculum to include affirming representation of LGBTQI+ people in K-12 schools: California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.
  • Three state education agencies (SEAs) adopted LGBTQI+ inclusive curricular standards. The District of Columbia adopted LGBTQI+ inclusive Social Studies standards. Maryland adopted LGBTQI+ inclusive High School History standards in 2020. Massachusetts adopted an LGBTQI+ inclusive History and Social Science standard.
  • Nine states (California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have policies requiring that sex education be inclusive of LGBTQI+ people. In some states, providing sex education is required (e.g., California), while in others, local education agencies choose to provide sex education and, if they do so, instruction must be LGBTQI+ inclusive (e.g., Illinois).
  • Three states have policies encouraging LGBTQI+ inclusion in locally adopted curriculum: Connecticut passed a law directing the SEA to create an LGBTQI+ inclusive core model curriculum and, separately, its recommendations for sex education are LGBTQI+ inclusive. Delaware passed a resolution encouraging the SEA to create a model LGBTQI+ inclusive curriculum. Vermont passed a law establishing a working group to review and recommend updates and additional standards to recognize fully the history, contributions, and perspectives of ethnic groups and social groups, including LGBTQI+ people.

New and old efforts to censor curriculum impose direct and indirect barriers on the adoption of LGBTQI+ inclusive and culturally responsive curriculum by local education agencies.

  • Between 2021 and 2024, six states enacted laws that require parental notification of LGBTQI+ inclusive instruction and either permit parents to opt their child out (Arkansas, Florida, Montana) or require that parents opt into their child receiving LGBTQI+ inclusive instruction (Arizona, Tennessee, Wyoming). Because Arkansas and Florida have enacted more restrictive LGBTQI+ curriculum censorship laws, they are coded dark purple on the map.
  • Eleven states have laws censoring instruction on LGBTQI+ people and topics:
    • Between 2022 and 2023, seven states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida (2023 and 2022), Indiana, Iowa (enforcement paused), Kentucky, and North Carolina) have passed “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” K-12 laws that prohibit instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity that effectively censor LGBTQI+ people and topics. These include total bans and partial, grade-specific bans.
      • Florida’s 2023 law and Iowa‘s law expressly restrict access to LGBTQI+ inclusive school library books and resources.
      • A March 2024 settlement with the Florida State Board of Education neutralized many dangerously vague provisions in Florida’s 2022 law (e.g., teachers may respond to student questions and students may write about LGBTQI+ topics for a class project), but the statutory ban on inclusive instruction remains.
      • Enforcement of Iowa’s law has been paused while a legal challenge moves forward that could permanently invalidate the law.
    • Earlier attacks on inclusive learning in the 1980s and 1990s prohibited affirming representations of homosexuality in the context of K-12 sex or health education. Four states (Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas) still have these so-called “No Promo Homo” laws.
  • Fifteen states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah) have laws censoring instruction on race and sex-based structural inequality in K-12 schools. Sex-based structural inequality includes the assumption or imposition of sex stereotypes in legal, educational, and others systems that erases, excludes, or stigmatized LGBTQI+ individuals.
    • Arizona‘s 2021 law censoring instruction on race and sex-based structural inequality was subsequently struck down by its states supreme court.
    • Utah‘s law restricts access to inclusive school libraries and enumerates “sexual orientation.”

Source: Analysis of state policy data by GLSEN, supported by state policy data collected and analyzed by Movement Advancement Project (MAP), SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change, and African American Policy Forum. GLSEN continues to assess and categorize states on this map based on updates to state laws and regulations. If you see a state on this map that needs an update, please email policy@glsen.org.

 

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