Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the requirements of the Diversity and Inclusion statute (N.J.S.A. 18A:35-4.36a)?
18A:35-4.36a Curriculum to include instruction on diversity and inclusion.
1. a. Beginning in the 2021-2022 school year, each school district shall incorporate instruction on diversity and inclusion in an appropriate place in the curriculum of students in grades kindergarten through 12 as part of the district’s implementation of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.
b. The instruction shall:
(1) highlight and promote diversity, including economic diversity, equity, inclusion, tolerance, and belonging in connection with gender and sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, disabilities, and religious tolerance;
(2) examine the impact that unconscious bias and economic disparities have at both an individual level and on society as a whole; and
(3) encourage safe, welcoming, and inclusive environments for all students regardless of race or ethnicity, sexual and gender identities, mental and physical disabilities, and religious beliefs.
c. The Commissioner of Education shall provide school districts with sample learning activities and resources designed to promote diversity and inclusion.
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
2. What are the requirements of the LGBT and Individuals with Disabilities statute (N.J.S.A. 18A:35-4.35-6)?
18A:35-4.35: History of disabled and LGBT persons included in middle and high school curriculum.
1. A board of education shall include instruction on the political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, in an appropriate place in the curriculum of middle school and high school students as part of the district's implementation of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.
18A:35-4.36 Policies, procedures pertaining to inclusive instructional materials.
2. A board of education shall have policies and procedures in place pertaining to the selection of instructional materials to implement the requirements of section 1 of this act. When adopting instructional materials for use in the schools of the district, a board of education shall adopt inclusive instructional materials that portray the cultural and economic diversity of society including the political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, where appropriate.
3. This act shall take effect immediately and shall first apply to the 2020-2021 school year.
3. Is there an opt-out option related to the statutes stated above?
Each school district is required by law to provide instruction in grades K-12 at an appropriate place in the curriculum that highlights and promotes diversity, including economic diversity, equity, inclusion, tolerance, and belonging in connection with gender and sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, disabilities, and religious tolerance; as well as the political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people at the middle and high school level. There is no opt-out provision in these statues.
4. How should school districts address questions and concerns from families and other members of the community about this legislation?
District boards of education shall encourage the active involvement of representatives from the community, business, industry, labor and higher education in the development of educational programs aligned to the N.J.A.C. 6A:8-3.10(a).
1. What does diversity, equity and inclusion look like in the classroom?
Many educators already implement educational practices that foster inclusive environments. The following evidence-based practices can be leveraged to meet the requirements of the Diversity and Inclusion law:
- Have high expectations of all students;
- Allow student voice and choice;
- Utilize culturally responsive practices;
- Implement social and emotional learning practices; and
- Include resources that reflect the contributions of individuals with different gender and sexual orientations, races and ethnicities, mental and physical disabilities and religious beliefs
2. How can educators and administrators select diverse, equitable and inclusive resources?
The Designing & Evaluating Instructional Materials Checklist is a screening tool to ensure teachers are continuously creating and utilizing lessons that reflect evidence-based practices that lead to high-quality instruction for all students. For a more detailed equity focused evaluation of instructional materials, districts are encouraged to utilize the Tools for Evaluating Instructional Materials.
3. Are there resources to support the political, economic and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (N.J.S.A 18A:35-4.35) in the curriculum?
The Department of Education has created a list of resources below to assist educators. In addition, resources are also incorporated throughout the Sample Activities and Lessons and the Culturally Responsive Practices webpages.
Resources relating to the History & Contributions of Individuals with Disabilities
- Disability History through Primary Sources webpage on the Emerging America website serves as a hub for primary sources, publications, themes and lessons plans on disability history.
- Disability History Museum hosts virtual artifacts, lesson plans, and museum exhibits. This website is designed to foster research and facilitate the study of the historical experiences of people with disabilities and their communities.
- Everybody: An Artifact History of Disability in America is a web exhibition by the Smithsonian Institute that provides a historical perspective of people with disabilities.
- Museum of disABILITY History offers virtual exhibits, lesson plans and primary resources that explore the experiences of people with disabilities throughout history.
- National Parks Service Disability History series brings attention to some of the many disability stories interwoven across the National Park Service’s 400+ units and its programs. “Disability stories” refer to the array of experiences by, from, and about people with disabilities represented across our nation.
- Respect Ability website contains a wealth of educational resources as well as profiles of individuals with disabilities of different ethnicities as well as women and LGBT.
- Special Olympics website contains information that can be used in a physical education curriculum.
- U.S. Department of Labor: The Campaign for Disability Employment provides the stories of disabled individuals and their struggles and triumphs.
- Virginia Commonwealth University provides resources for teaching about individuals with disabilities.
Resources relating to the History and Contributions of LGBT Individuals
- Library of Congress provides a variety of primary and secondary source materials containing books, posters, sound recordings, manuscripts and other material reflecting the contributions of the LGBTQ community.
- National Archives Educator Resources website provides primary sources and teaching activities that explores the concept of breaking barriers through the lens of LGBTQ accomplishments.
- National Park Service LGBTQ Heritage website provides free education tools and materials for teachers and students that highlight the people and places of LGBTQ history in America.
- People with a History(Fordham University) provides hundreds of original texts, discussions and images, and addresses LGBTQ history in all periods, and in all regions of the world.
- Welcoming Schools provides LGBTQ and gender inclusive professional development training, lesson plans, booklists and resources.
4. Are there community-based organizations that support New Jersey’s efforts towards diversity, equity and inclusion?
Yes, NJ.com published an article featuring a list of New Jersey organizations that address issues of diversity.
The resources provided on this webpage are for informational purposes only. All resources must meet the New Jersey Department of Education’s (NJDOE) accessibility guidelines. Currently, the NJDOE aims to conform to Level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1). However, the NJDOE does not guarantee that linked external sites conform to Level AA of the WCAG 2.1. Neither the Department of Education nor its officers, employees or agents specifically endorse, recommend or favor these resources or the organizations that created them. Please note that the Department of Education has not reviewed or approved the materials related to the programs.