By Manav Lund, High School Senior • IDRA Newsletter • September 2022 •

If proponents of equity in our schools have learned anything in the past year, it is that the spotlight is not always a good thing. Vitriolic fear mongering at the hands of far-right politicians has resulted in a nationwide campaign to censor curricula with any analyses of inequity. LGBTQ+ topics, in particular, have faced unfair scrutiny.

Critics purport that LGBTQ+ inclusive lessons are inappropriate and would distract from essential curricula, when in reality, creating affirming lessons to enrich history, social science and language arts curricula can be incredibly beneficial and fairly easy. The callous and wildly misinformed effort to censor LGBTQ+ topics in our classrooms represents a dangerous trend of the government-sanctioned repression of progressive ideas.

To deprive any student access to inclusive, affirming education is far more dangerous than curricula that dare mention the facts that (1) LGBTQ+ people exist, and (2) they deserve basic human dignity. 

As of late, the political right has whirled up various intertwining narratives that serve to oppose curricula with LGBTQ+ topics. Notably, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the “Parental Rights in Education” bill dubbed a “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics for targeting discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade classrooms, and many states launched similar bills (Fuller, 2022; López, 2022).

If age-appropriate lessons are the concern, trained elementary educators are more than aware to stray away from topics better left in a secondary sex education course. But of course, this is a moot point as so-called “parents’ rights” factions have consistently demonstrated their belief that any curricula or books remotely mentioning individuals with non-heterosexual, non-cisgender identities are fair game for removal, even in grades 4 to 12 (Price, 2022).

To deprive any student access to inclusive, affirming education is far more dangerous than curricula that dare mention the facts that (1) LGBTQ+ people exist, and (2) they deserve basic human dignity.

Through some informal surveying and observation, I found that many people, including my high school-age peers, do not have a “problem with LGBTQ+ inclusion,” but simply find it “unnecessary” to discuss in school and it would “take up time from the actual lessons.” These individuals, all of whom are heterosexual and cisgender, do not understand how affirmation and representation in classrooms can improve the self-esteem of LGBTQ+ students (Lloyd, 2021). Teachers can simply mention queer and trans historical figures; include LGBTQ+ individuals in topics surrounding civil rights, bias and human development; and not shy away from LGBTQ+ themes in literature. This provides LGBTQ+ students with a sense of belonging, and it can inform straight and cis students for the better (Russell et al., 2021).

Exposing students to a variety of backgrounds and experiences and enriching their capacity for empathy can be as simple as inserting a few bullet points to a slideshow or introducing new titles to a book list. But this capacity is significantly hindered by lawmaker attempts to prohibit it.

It is disheartening to see nationwide attacks on LGBTQ+ inclusive education spearheaded by political actors who want nothing to do with actually improving education outcomes and everything to do with draconian censorship. Knowledge is power. It is my hope that educators and students can band together to resist the dangerous political trends that threaten the knowledge and well-being of all LGBTQ+ students and their allies.


Fuller, J. (April 5, 2022). What Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Law Means for Teachers. NPR.

Price, G. (January 30, 2022). Why Book Ban Efforts Spread Across the U.S. The New York Times.

López, B. (January 26, 2022). Gov. Greg Abbott Taps into Parent Anger to Fuel Reelection Campaign. Texas Tribune.

Lloyd, C. (June 30, 2021). The Power of an Inclusive Curriculum for LGBTQ+ Youth and Families. EL Education.

Russell, S.T., Bishop, M.D., Saba, V.C., & James, I. (2021). Promoting School Safety for LGBTQ and All Students. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 8(2):160-166.

A high school senior, Manav Lund is a member of IDRA’s 2022 Youth Advisory Board from Austin.

[©2022, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of the IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]