Straight white men are justly losing their monopoly on the school curriculum

It’s time to bring diversity to history.

Taylor Sharp

I know a thing or two about straight white guys.

You may think it’s because I spent a summer as a hunter-gatherer in order to “discover myself,” but it’s not that. They’re all over textbooks. They’re the default topic in history class; we’ve learned their stories since kindergarten.

Last week the Minnesota Daily reported on University of Minnesota professor J.B. Mayo, an advocate for the inclusion of LGBTQ history in public schools. Missions such as his are tangible and important. As an example, every week I attend a class that pays particular attention to women and black writers — at last sidestepping the literature of white men fixed into the canon centuries ago.

No curriculum can contain a comprehensive history of everything, but poring over one specific demographic leaves out spates of figures that are of historical importance. Expanding history curriculum can reveal wide-ranging viewpoints that encourage understanding, community and curiosity.

I’ve dissected every nook and ruffle of William Shakespeare’s folio, and though I appreciate his opus, I think academics’ obsession with him takes time away from writers who have been excluded from mainstream curricula.

LGBTQ history can mingle seamlessly with well-established curriculum, anyway. If its addition to the curriculum takes time away from one more mention of William Jennings Bryan in my Gilded Age history class, well, that’s fine by me.