116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
All over the country there are state lawmakers who have proposed bills trying to ban learning about racism, gender equality and LGBTQ+ history in public schools. This is a large problem as young students are heavily affected by this.
The right to learn accurate American history is critical and students need to know that history and what communities have experienced. This also increases discriminatory behavior in students, creating an unsafe environment.
I, as a high school sophomore, understand that this is crucial, and any ban trying to block the right to share ideas, listen and receive information goes against the First Amendment. This not only affects young students. Marginalized communities deserve equitable education, to freely learn and speak about the history and experiences of all in their communities. Their past representation matters, not just the history and hidden truths about cisgender, heterosexual white men.
As a person who is part of the LGBTQ+ community, I have encountered this problem. Last year, in my advanced history class, I messaged my teacher saying, “Why don’t we learn about LGBTQ history, since those of that community have been so oppressed throughout the decades?” He responded with, “That is a topic we will cover some in second quarter!”
Now, as I recall, I didn’t read but one sentence about the LGBTQ community in the time of WWII. I would say that this is certainly less than “some.”
When these bills lawmakers have proposed pass, it erases the history and lived experiences of oppressed communities and begins to censor discussions about racism and the role it has played in American History. Wouldn't you rather have an uncomfortable conversation, rather than almost completely erase important history?
In trying to cut down major discussions, it hurts students' voices and is a transparent attempt to completely suppress learning about racism, gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights. For students of marginalized communities, I can say from experience, talking and learning about the past of communities in school can truly make one feel connected and equally valued.
I urge you to really listen and begin uncomfortable conversations. To truly make a difference we really need to address current problems in our country and acknowledge mistakes of the past and present. From there we can really make an impact, finally taking one step forward.
Petra Elizabeth Sherman of Cedar Rapids is a high school student.