ONE Archives develops an LGBT curriculum

The ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries has recently partnered with Project Suicide Prevention Intervention Now and the Los Angeles Unified School District to create and implement lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history curricula into high school classes.

The ONE Archives currently possesses the largest LGBT archive in the world.

“I think the ONE Archives are an important place because they’re gathering history that kind of slipped through the cracks,” said Quyên Nguyen-Le, co-president of USC Queer People of Color.

The new partnership between the ONE Archives, LAUSD and Project SPIN is intended to get the LGBT history that has slipped through the cracks into history classes.

This project arose as a response to the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Education Act. The new bill called for the integration of factual, age-appropriate information about the contributions of members of certain minority groups, including LGBT individuals, into social studies and history lessons.

To facilitate the implementation of more inclusive history teachings mandated by the FAIR Education Act, the ONE Archives hired researchers familiar with the archives to use the history textbooks already in possession by LAUSD to integrate LGBT-specific history into the existing curriculum.

“When a teacher is teaching a certain section of a history book, our curriculum is identical to the format of theirs,” said Jamie Scot, project and development manager for the ONE Archives. “All they have to do is fold it really seamlessly and easily into what they’re already teaching.”

Representatives from the ONE Archives and from Project SPIN will also offer training sessions for teachers.

These sessions are intended to offer support for the historical material as well as sensitivity training for teachers who might be unfamiliar with certain aspects of LGBT history.

“Our partners from LAUSD and Project SPIN work together all the time and so they were very open to this resource for their teachers and very supportive of getting this in the classrooms,” Scot said.

Scot believes that by efficiently integrating more historical narratives into the standardized version of history taught in schools, this project is likely to lead to a more respectful climate toward LGBT individuals. She also thinks it will positively affect LGBT-identified students in LAUSD.

“To really be told that your community is important historically and that people from your community have been contributing to society and to history for hundreds of years, it just immediately validates you as a person and it validates you as a member of this community,” Scot said.

Troy Rayder, parliamentarian for USC’s Queer and Ally Student Assembly, is also hopeful about what this new curriculum will mean for students in the LAUSD.

“I hope that it will generally create a more appreciative environment for LGBT people,” Rayder said.

Rayder, who worked for the ONE Archives from February through August 2013, was informed that some of the work he’s done for the archives might be referenced or included in the new curriculum.

“I think that it will help people in school who may be struggling with their identity or may be struggling to come out, to hear about these inspiring figures who were LGBT and did great things in the world and were out about it,” Rayder said. “It may help them in their coming out process, so that is something that I think is awesome.”