New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation on Thursday mandating that every school in the state teach students about "the political, economic, and social contributions" of LGBTQ people and people with disabilities.
The legislation, which will apply starting in the 2020-21 school year, requires that the boards of education for middle and high schools ensure that instructional materials, such as text books, include accurate portrayals of the contributions made by LGBTQ people and those with disabilities.
“Governor Murphy was honored to sign legislation requiring New Jersey school districts to teach about the rich contributions and accomplishments of our LGBTQ community and those with disabilities," Christine Lee, a spokesperson for Gov. Murphy, said in a statement shared with NBC News. "The Governor believes that ensuring students learn about diverse histories will help build more tolerant communities and strengthen educational outcomes.”
Garden State Equality, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, applauded the legislation.
“It’s critical that our classrooms highlight the achievements of LGBTQ people throughout history,” the organization’s executive director, Christian Fuscarino, said in a statement. “Our youth deserve to see how diverse American history truly is — and how they can be a part of it one day, too.”
GLSEN, a national LGBTQ student advocacy organization, has found that “including lessons that promote respect and appreciation for diversity will help to reverse current rates of bullying and harassment LGBT students face on a regular basis.”
“These lessons have also been linked to reduced absenteeism, with 17 percent of students in schools with an inclusive curriculum missing school in the past month because of feeling unsafe compared to 33 percent of students who attend schools without an inclusive curriculum,” a recent GLSEN report states.
New Jersey is now the second state, after California, to require schools to adopt an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum. California's Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Education (FAIR) Act took effect on Jan. 1, 2012.