This past summer, queer people and our allies cheered the California State Legislature’s requirement to include the long ignored contributions of LGBTQ people to history in social studies textbooks and in-class curriculum. In addition to addressing a major curricular oversight, this legislation will also promote a classroom culture in which teachers, students, and administrators can address the transphobia and homophobia that has fi nally captured the attention national media. While California’s legislation represents an unqualifi ed fi rst, teachers in New York City—including teachers at Harvey Milk High School—and across the country have already experimented with introducing queer pedagogies in primary, intermediate, and secondary school classrooms.
In the spirit of California’s legislation and these courageous educators, the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies is proud to present our spring Seminar in the City: Queering the Curriculum. Joining forces with Darnell Moore and Sam Stiegler at the Hetrick-Martin Institute, New York City teachers Jesse Chanin and Kevin Connell, Pop-Up Museum of Queer History Founder Hugh Ryan, Professor Rachel Mattson at SUNY-New Paltz, Professor Robbie Cohen at NYU, Education Associate Christine
Hou of the Dia Art Foundation, as well as CLAGS board members Christopher Mitchell and Daniel Hurewitz from our newly formed Pedagogies Committee, Queering the Curriculum will off er four workshops to discuss how teachers might already be queering the present curriculum and to address ideas for including queer resources and pedagogies into the existing curriculum. This spring’s Seminar in the City will also address how to foster a queer affi rming classroom culture and steps to institutionalize queer pedagogies in local and state social studies and other curricula across the greater New York City region.
In addition to including historical fi gures as varied as Bayard Rustin, an architect of the African-American Civil Rights Movement, and Sylvia Rivera, a long-time activist for transgender rights and economic justice, these workshops also off er primary, intermediate, and secondary educators the opportunity to investigate the queer past before the invention of the term “homosexuality” from The Epic of Gilgamesh to the bedroom of Abraham Lincoln. Furthermore, queering the curriculum means calling into question the meaning of “civil rights” by investigating the historical experiences of queer people, as well as other taken-for-granted assumptions such as how gendered categories or ideas of “normal” are socially determined. The seminars will also explore how the history of sexuality complicates the study of race, ethnicity, and gender in the existing curriculum.
Queering the Curriculum will take place over four Saturdays spaced out over the spring 2012 semester. The fi rst session, on February 4, will introduce the major concepts and ideas of queer pedagogies in the classroom as well as possible institutional and other hurdles that primary, intermediate, and secondary teachers might face. The next session, on March 3, will explore the existing civil rights curriculum and strategies for including the history of queer activism in the broader histories of the African-American Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Liberation, and other political movements that sought to expand and redefi ne civil liberties in the United States and abroad. The third session, held on March 31, will introduce teachers to primary and secondary resources in the development of lesson plans, curriculum design, and school-wide programming. The fi nal session, on May 5, will explore the institutional resources available to teachers and administrators, classroom and school advocacy for both queer students and queer curriculum, and solutions for moving forward in local and state school boards. We hope that in addition to new ideas and inspiration, teachers can walk away from these sessions with ready-made lesson plans and resources in hand.
Like all Seminar in the City programming, Queering the Curriculum is a series and we encourage participants to come to as many sessions as possible. Educators from all disciplines, fi elds, and age groups should feel welcome to attend. Teachers and teaching assistants are especially invited, but we also welcome counselors, principals and other administrators, school volunteers, and parents to join us for these exciting workshops. We also wish to welcome participants from across the region, including Long Island, Upstate New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.