Last May, the Bergen County Arts & Science Charter School [BASCS], a public school that rents space from Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Hackensack, New Jersey, was forced to paint over Keith Haring-inspired mural with interlocking male symbols that were on a wall in a common area also used by church parishioners.
The incident drew criticism from Garden State Equality and others who perceived the landlord dispute as bigoted … because it is … and Nihat Guvercin, chief executive officer of iLearn Schools, which operates BASCS, agreed:
“For years BASCS has successfully operated its school in a church building, complying with the requirements of its lease while also respecting the rights of its students. The curriculum test-pilot will be an opportunity for us to become a leader in this work, to create a model for other public schools. We’re proud to participate with Garden State Equality to do that.”
And now BASCS has been selected as the first school in the state to pilot LGBTQ curriculum. The LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum law, passed last year and signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy, requires middle and high schools to teach students about the political, economic, and social contributions of LGBTQ people.
And it’s not just history and inclusion, it’s safety for LGBTQ youth. LGBTQ students were nearly half as likely to experience victimization in schools where inclusive curriculum was available, and reports of homophobic slurs and negative remarks declined across the board since students were more than twice as likely to intervene on another student’s behalf when they witnessed anti-LGBTQ remarks.
And now BASCS has gone from being punished for painting an LGBTQ inclusive mural, to being one of the first schools in the state to have an LGBTQ inclusive curriculum. Maybe these kids will learn about all of the things that LGBTQ people have done for this world, and then realize we’re all very much alike.
The march goes on …