Looking to "normalize" being LQBTQ in the classroom, the Massachusetts Department of Education has approved a new curriculum with LBGTQ-themed history, English, and health to be offered this fall.

The Boston Herald says local districts can determine how they want to offer the curriculum, developed by a team of teachers with Massachusetts Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students and the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth.

Jeff Perrotti, Director of the Massachusetts Safe School Program for LGBTQ Students, tells the Herald, "Students need to see themselves reflected and see others who are different from themselves. It is important that all students feel safe, valued and respected in school so they can be ready to learn."

Boston area high schools will be among the first to experiment with the new curriculum. The Boston Herald says teachers at some area high schools have already begun including works by gay authors as part of their lesson plan. Others are discussing ways to respect the pronouns some students use, and not make heterosexual assumptions.

It is a good idea to provide a well-rounded education for all students. Coursework that takes a deeper dive into sexuality or other social issues should only be available as electives when requirements for graduation have been addressed. Such electives might even be offered after school.

"Normalizing" LGBTQ in the classroom should not mean that all students are required to take LGBTQ studies.

The fundamentals of education know no sexuality. Math is math and science is science. History is basic and a great author's works should be taught because he or she is a great author. Not because the author is gay or transgender.

When a youngster is in school, he or she is there to learn. His or her sexuality should not be an issue, nor is it anyone's business. Teaching gender identity has no role in the public classroom.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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