SF public high school to offer LGBT studies class next fall

Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts is poised to become the first public high school in The City to offer an LGBT studies class next fall.

The elective interdisciplinary course will teach LGBT history, studies and literature with a focus on the history and contributions of the LGBT community in San Francisco, said Matt Haney, vice president of the San Francisco Unified School District board of education.

An update on the class is expected to be presented Monday night to the board’s Augmented Curriculum and Program Committee, which includes Haney and commissioners Sandra Fewer and Shamann Walton.

In 2010, the board approved a resolution to expand services for LGBT students, including the creation of an interdisciplinary course on LGBT history and literature. One district-funded LGBT studies course was since available in 2011, though the class took place on Saturdays at Lyric, a San Francisco-based LGBT organization for youths.

While that class was offered only on Saturdays, the course at Asawa SOTA will mark the first time it is taught at a public school.

“If there’s anywhere that this course should be offered, it should be San Francisco,” Haney said. “San Francisco in many ways is the international capital of the LGBT community and has tremendous history, contribution, resources and organizations that we can draw on in offering this course.”

Lyndsey Schlax, who will teach the course, said she expects that students will welcome the lessons. More students – nearly 30 percent – identify as LGBT or questioning at Asawa SOTA, which is more than at any other public high school in The City, according to district officials.

Talks are also under way to offer an LGBT studies course at Mission High School possibly next fall as well.

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