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New Jersey mandates LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum for schools

Requirement goes into effect in 2020

Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Following in California's footsteps, New Jersey is now the second state to force schools to have an LGBTQ curriculum.

What happened?

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday signed legislation that requires every state school to teach students about the "political, economic, and social contributions" of LGBTQ people and people with disabilities.

Under the legislation, all middle and high schools must have instructional materials – including textbooks – that "accurately" portray LGBTQ people. The coursework will begin with the 2020-21 school year.

"Governor Murphy was honored to sign legislation requiring New Jersey school districts to teach about the rich contributions and accomplishments of our LGBTQ community and those with disabilities," Christine Lee, a spokesperson for Gov. Murphy, said in a statement obtained by NBC News. "The Governor believes that ensuring students learn about diverse histories will help build more tolerant communities and strengthen educational outcomes."

Any reaction?

NBC's report offered two reactions; both from LGBTQ support groups.

Garden State Equality, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, was pleased with the legislation.

In a statement, the group's executive director, Christian Fuscarino, said: "It's critical that our classrooms highlight the achievements of LGBTQ people throughout history. Our youth deserve to see how diverse American history truly is — and how they can be a part of it one day, too."

The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network said that the curriculum can improve attendance.

"These lessons have also been linked to reduced absenteeism, with 17 percent of students in schools with an inclusive curriculum missing school in the past month because of feeling unsafe compared to 33 percent of students who attend schools without an inclusive curriculum," according to a GLSEN statement.

The LGBTQ student advocacy group also said that "including lessons that promote respect and appreciation for diversity will help to reverse current rates of bullying and harassment LGBT students face on a regular basis."

New Jersey's move follows California's Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Education (FAIR) Act, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

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