Frequently Asked Questions
The Frequently Asked Questions webpage for Social Studies will continue to be developed to provide guidance for legislation.
1. What are the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities and LGBT 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.
2. 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 for parents or districts related to these statutes unless it applies to health, family life education or sex education as stated in the Parent's Statement of Conflict with Conscience statute N.J.S.A. 18A:35-4.7.
3. 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 with the NJSLS 6A:8-3.10(a).
4. 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 Universityprovides 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.
1. What is the Laura Wooten Law?
The Laura Wooten Law (N.J.S.A. 18A:35-2.1) was passed with the intent of enhancing civics education in public schools by:
- Requiring civics instruction in middle school
- Authorizing the New Jersey Center for Civic Education to provide curricula, professional development and technical assistance for middle and high school civics
2. Why is it called the Laura Wooten Law?
Laura Wooten was the longest continuously serving poll worker in the United States, working every election from 1939 up until her death in 2019. She volunteered at local, primary and general election polls for 79 years. Laura Wooten was an advocate for the importance of civic engagement.
3. What are the middle school civics course requirements?
Beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, each board of education shall provide a course of study in civics, which shall be taken by all students in an appropriate middle school grade. The board shall ensure that the course of study includes a minimum of two quarters of instruction, or the equivalent.
4. Do all students need to take the middle school civics course?
Yes, all students must take a middle school civics course of at least two-quarters in order to meet the requirements of the law.
5. What content should be taught in the middle school civics course?
The course shall address:
- the values and principles underlying the American system of constitutional democracy;
- the function and limitations of government;
- and the role of a citizen in a democratic society.
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 NJDOE nor its officers, employees or agents specifically endorse, recommend or favor these resources or the organizations that created them. Please note that the NJDOE has not reviewed or approved the materials related to the programs.