A Diverse Student Body Deserves an Inclusive Curriculum

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The United States is a country full of people with many backgrounds, religions, genders and sexual orientations who have come together to build our nation. After freshman learn about World War I in history class, the may ask themselves  “Why don’t we learn more about minorities in history?” Are West students learning about LGBTQ history, reading books written by minorities or learning about women’s role in history? A diverse curriculum allows students to see themselves represented in what they learn.

West High has a minority enrollment of 35 percent and 49 percent of the student body is female. As our country and school become more diverse, what we learn needs to become more diverse. Students who see themselves in the pages of the books they read are more likely to want to learn.  Lilly Duncan ‘21 agrees “At West High, most of the curriculum is inclusive, however in every social studies class I’ve ever taken, LGBTQ history has only been brought up very briefly in American studies, and that was the only class. It was not talked about in world history or AP European history.”  

Megan Johnson teaches social studies at West High and agrees that teachers should include a diverse curriculum. “I absolutely think teachers at West should incorporate lessons on the history and perspectives of underrepresented people in their curriculum – women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, etc,” Johnson said. Including a more diverse approach to history would make all West High students feel that they are represented in what they learn. In September of this year, a school board in Austin, Texas voted to remove Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller from their curriculum because they were not seen as role models of citizenship. The removal of these women will save the school district a total of 70 instructional minutes. If school districts can remove such important women from the history books, where will it stop and who will be removed next?

Even though 65% of the student population is Caucasian, that statistic doesn’t account for different religious beliefs and sexual orientation.  West High students benefit from a diverse curriculum because they get to learn about people who aren’t like them. “West High should definitely teach women’s history and LGBTQ history,” said Lilli Duncan ’21. “There are a lot of students or just people in general who are uninformed or misinformed about these topics and it’s important for us to all to learn more so we can be understanding of others.”

If students learned about LGBTQ and women’s history in the classroom, they would be more informed about issues that other groups of people have to deal with. Students would know how far minorities have come in history and how much more they need to overcome. “If people learned more about other communities outside of their own, they would be more accepting of others,” Duncan said. Not only is equal representation limited in the eyes of some students, but how they are represented can be skewed. Kaylen Brackett ‘22 points out “It has gotten better, but it still singles women out as people who stay home and cook and clean while the men do the labor. We are taught that men are strong, confident, intelligent and can do anything.”

Students must learn about other people’s history to have the full view of the world. If students are only learning about a limited group of people, they miss out.  The diversity of our country has helped to shape it into what it is today. For example, learning about the Stonewall Riots of 1969 would let students see the LGBT point of view in the Civil Rights Movement.  Reading books written by people of color would bring their experiences to light. Learning about the Suffragettes battle to win the right to vote would put the struggle for women’s rights today into perspective.

While many students and teachers agree that West High could increase the diversity in their curriculum, some students think things are fine as is.  Rhiannon Uetz ‘22 says “I feel like women and minorities are represented enough in what we learn in school. The examples in the school work contain females often times, and an equal amount of minorities are used in photo examples.”  

While West High students and teachers may disagree on the amount of diversity in the curriculum, it can be said that every student would benefit from a diverse curriculum. Whether it is learning about people like them or learning about people not like them, hearing stories and opinions different from yours and learning various viewpoints from history can only increase your knowledge. West is a  diverse school full of students and staff of all different backgrounds and beliefs. The curriculum that the students learn needs to represent all of them, not just some of them.  

 

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A Diverse Student Body Deserves an Inclusive Curriculum