When many students learn about United States or world history, they often hear about violent wars, specific dates, and influential people. Generally, history has been told from only one or two perspectives.
Here at Lincoln, students can learn more about other marginalized groups’ points of view. There are already new classes on ethnic studies and other race centered issues; now gender and LGBTQ history has made its way to LHS.
The class was brought to the table by Fred Fox, one of Lincoln’s social studies teachers. Around November, teachers are allowed to submit and propose new course ideas to the district. Fox had thought about the idea then, but believed that his concept wasn’t complete enough to offer. Over the next few months, he learned more about the topic, and especially why this subject should be taught. According to Fox, there are more homeless queer youth, and they’re more likely to use drugs, commit suicide or be bullied.
He says “part of that is the stigma that you don’t see yourself in the curriculum.” With the class, he thought, queer students could hear a story to which they can connect. Around January, he proposed the course to the social studies department and received mostly positive feedback.
Due to the late proposal, the class was not included in the course guide for the 2016-17 school year. However, that didn’t stop students from being interested. Even other teachers were excited about the idea, and have been bouncing ideas off Fox, who has had to design the syllabus from scratch.
The class is split into two semesters: one for Queer U.S History and the other for Queer Modern World History. Yet, given the content of the class and the limited sources of queer history, Fox believes that the method may change.
Maia Abbruzzese, a senior at Lincoln, is currently taking the class and says that she loves it. She believes that these topics, especially today, should be taught in all schools and many students can benefit from learning about queer history.
“You’re in a class full of people who actually want to be there… it’s a very intellectually stimulating environment,” says Abbruzzese. She believes it’s a class of love, restoration and reconnecting and it’s full of open-minded students.
She describes Fox as a funny teacher who makes the class very engaging. The atmosphere is fairly relaxed and people are more than welcome to make mistakes.
The content ranges from what the definition of queer is, how the acceptance of queer culture was more progressive years ago than today and even Portland queer communities. Both Fox and Abbruzzese discuss how LGBTQ history has been glossed over for years and many don’t realize how much it has shaped the history most of us know.
Fox hopes to expand this class around Portland Public Schools. Along with that, he wants to design more classes on other marginalized groups’ history, including women’s and Asian-American history.
But he cannot do it alone. He says, “it would be unbelievably wonderful if other teachers picked it up and made it happen.”