WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Public Schools district has begun working with Garden State Equality (GSE) in preparation for the 2020-2021 school year and the implementation of S1569, a New Jersey law adopted on Jan. 31 that requires schools to "include instruction, and adopt instructional materials, that accurately portray political, economic and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people."

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.

The law requires that all public middle and high schools teach curriculum in alignment with S1569's requirements. Earlier this month, GSE Safe Schools Coordinator Cole Callahan, MA, NCC, met with faculty at Liberty Middle School to provide an overview of the training and materials that will be made available to staff and students. GSE is also participating in writing the curriculum.

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Roosevelt Middle School, the district's other 7-8 middle school, has also begun meeting with GSE. Edison Middle School and West Orange High School will follow.

During the presentation, Callahan shared the following quote from Brene Brown in her book, "Dare to Lead."

“People are opting out of vital conversations about diversity and inclusivity because they fear looking wrong, saying something wrong, or being wrong. Choosing our own comfort over hard conversations is the epitome of privilege, and it corrodes trust and moves us away from meaningful and lasting change.”