DENVER — The Colorado State Board of Education voted 4-3 Thursday to include the perspectives of diverse racial and ethnic groups, LGBTQ and religious minorities in social studies curriculum.
“Feeling represented is important to everyone, especially in school,” said Alejandro Sandoval.
Sandoval spoke out during Thursday's board meeting, alongside Gabriel Gegenheimer.
“I have never been taught anything LGBTQ, or even Black history, or people of color. I've learned that all from outside school,” said Gegenheimer.
Sandoval and Gegenheimer said they did not feel represented when learning social studies in school growing up.
“We’re just as human as everyone else. Like, why should we not be taught about in schools?” said Sandoval.
Both have been fighting for more inclusive social studies standards, which is in line with a 2019 Colorado law.
"HB-1192 required the histories and social contributions of African American, Latina, Indigenous and Asian Americans, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and the intersections within those communities," explained Dr. Jax Gonzalez with the St. Vrain Valley Safe Schools Coalition.
Colorado House Bill 19-1192 led to curriculum revisions in 2021 to align with the new requirements, but those revisions did not last long after the State Board of Education received complaints.
The board heard from those on both sides of the issue and received hundreds of messages from parents and teachers about the standards.
“They struck all mentions, almost all mentions of LGBTQ and then other BIPOC identities," said Gonzalez.
Some who were opposed to the new social studies standards argued it should be up to parents to decide when to teach children about LGBTQ issues.
“At the lower levels, it's not appropriate to bring in that particular topics,” said Pam Benigno with the Independence Institute.
Following Thursday's vote, the LGBTQ and BIPOC language will be back on social studies curriculum moving forward.
Sandoval and Gegenheimer said they’ll continue being a voice and setting an example for future generations.
“I think, like, [it's] incredibly necessary for young people to be the ones who are raising their voices about these things, because if we don't, we just let teachers or parents talk for us. And it's like, we are capable, we're able to speak for ourselves,” said Sandoval.
Social studies standards are revised every six years in Colorado.