Monthly Archives: November 2014

Standing together for change; lessons from Ferguson

policy-angerisalegitimateresponse

michaelbrownDear families and friends,

We are angry. As an organization committed to “equity for all families and children,” we cannot sit on the sidelines while our Black youth continue to face violence from those empowered to uphold the law, generation after generation.

We are hurt. Let us hold, for a moment, how it must feel to lose a child to violence; hold, if you can, how Michael Brown’s family feels at this very moment. Let what you feel strengthen the compassion that binds all of us together, parent to child and parent to parent.

We are saddened. The wounds inflicted in communities of color in our country are deep and old. In an effort to divert attention from the injustice served, the media coverage  – of predominately peaceful, youth-led protests against institutionalized racism – has sensationalized the response of our communities and powerful organizing work done by so many in the hundred days since Michael Brown’s murder.

As a social justice organization, we stand for the protection of all children. We stand with the victims’ families. And we call for action and justice.

Let us continue talking to all of our children about racism, how we can fight it, and how being an ally is a powerful tool for peace. At the same time, we:

  1. Commit to connecting with and listening to families everywhere who are being marginalized and whose voices are still not being heard.
  2. Ask our policy makers and government officials to change these archaic and oppressive systems; they must not shrink from action during these troubled times.
  3. Encourage you to continue the dialog on how LGBTQ communities can best stand in solidarity with racial justice movements.

Our hearts go out to Michael’s family and the greater community as we mourn, seek justice, and work together for change.

In solidarity,

Our Family Coalition’s Team

PS: Do you have innovative ideas that can help Our Family Coalition expand this often challenging, yet transformative, intersectional work? Talk to us! Email recommendations, along with your name and contact information, to policy@ourfamily.org. Thanks!

 

It’s Time to Make Education FAIR

NARRATIVESAs a person of color that went through the ‘American’ K-12 education system, I felt that the social sciences we were taught did not accurately reflect the history of communities of color or any other marginalized groups–times minorities were mentioned were when we learned about exploitation, colonization, racism, etc. I never understood why inner city schools, such as the one I attended, taught history that was irrelevant to the demographic of the school—most being sons and daughters of low-income immigrant parents. Narratives of significant people and/or historical events were briefly told, if told at all. And of course, they were told through the colonizer’s point of view rather than by the colonized.

Once I got to college, I learned that there were classes that offered an alternative point-of-view to the history I had been taught. The content from these classes differed from what I had already learned in the sense that it presented me with relatable material and material that was more inclusive to the diversity that exists within the United States. Classes I took ranged from ethnic studies to gender and sexuality studies. I found it a bit problematic that I had to go out of my way to seek such courses rather than being presented with the information earlier in my education career; however, I am grateful to have had the privilege to access these resources that helped develop my consciousness and form my identity.

With just four years of getting out of the California’s K-12 public school system, I am excited to know that there are positive changes to the curriculums of public schools coming down the pipeline. In July 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 48—the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act. It calls for the inclusion of people with disabilities and LGBTQ Americans’ important historical contributions to the economic, political, and social development of California.

Now in 2014, I was disappointed to see that the Instructional Quality Commission really did not fulfill the intent of the FAIR Act since their recommendations to the new social science framework are minimum to none.

In an attempt to align the History – Social Science Framework with the requirements of SB 48, Our Family Coalition (OFC) partnered up with Gay-Straight Alliance Network and the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History (CLBTH) to recommend revisions to the existing framework and submit those to the State Board of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission (IQC). The revised Framework calls for a transformational approach in which students understand concepts and issues from the perspectives of diverse groups of people.

Here are some recommended revisions by grade and theme that were brought up in the Making the Framework FAIR report that I support:

• Grade 2: LGBT families in the context of understanding family diversity as a contemporary and historical reality

• Grade 4: Central roles played by gender and sexuality in California’s history as a site of rich, contested, and changing diversity

• Grade 5: Variation over time, region, and culture in colonial American practices and laws with regard to gender and sexuality

• Grade 8: Fundamental transformations in gender and sexuality in conjunction with nineteenth-century urbanization and industrialization

• Grade 11: The evolution of modern LGBT communities and identities; twentieth-century persecution of sexual and gender minorities and the growth of the LGBT civil rights movement

The inclusion of the LGBT community in California’s K-12 public school curriculum is long overdue. The LGBT community represents a significant part of the history and social fabric of California, yet their presence in textbooks is nonexistent. I believe the absence of such communities in the early learning stages of youth can affect their perception of the LGBT community. It can be something that they do not see as ‘normal’ thus they may develop a sense of dominancy and begin harassing the community.

As we know, individual students feel safer at school when diversity issues are included in the curriculum; this is true for LGBT students and for their straight peers. Schools without inclusive curriculums see more cases of reported bullying. Maybe if I would have seen myself accurately represented in textbooks, I wouldn’t have to wait until college to truly understand my history and that of my peers.

its timeNow let’s hope that the inclusion of LGBT communities in history and social science classes actually helps students navigate the economic, political, and social development of California rather than just present students with a few token historical figures. It is time to call for a truly representative curriculum that does not exclude to contributions of great portions of our communities, including the LGBT community.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE FAIR ACT IMPLEMENTATION AND PUBLIC COMMENTS THAT YOU CAN SUBMIT TO THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

By Isidro Manuel Lopez, communications/media intern at Our Family Coalition and broadcast & electronic communication arts student at San Francisco State University.