The Notoriously Dreaded Health Semester Removed: Hall’s Biggest Mistake Yet?

Senior student, Alexei sitting in classroom.

In the past ten years, there has been an overwhelming cultural uprising of LGBTQ acceptance in society. Still, schools haven’t changed fast enough to keep the curriculum up to par with this cultural revolution. Despite Hall High school considering itself a rather progressive and forward-thinking community, like hundreds of other schools around the nation, its curriculum is rather slow to change. The 2020/21 school year will be the first to see the removal of the class currently known as Health. In an interview the Hall High School Principal Dan Zittoun, he told us it would be entirely replaced by a new “Wellness Curriculum”. After speaking to Physical Education and Health teacher Michelle Boire, she elaborated that the traditional semester-long class will no longer be in a class students attend. Instead, intermittently a “Wellness” class will meet in place of the students daily physical education class.

 Despite supposed enforcement in the teaching of LGBTQ awareness in the new class, students fear that the adjusted format may detriment the teacher’s ability to adequately educate students on the very complicated and lengthy matter. With Wellness class sections broken up, how could such an important topic be discussed with sessions being months apart at a time? The “Wellness” curriculum on paper is a world of improvement over Health, both adding to and reinforcing the teachings of LGBTQ awareness. The class is said to delve deeper into both physical and mental health issues. The name change comes along with the idea that it’s vital to one’s well being to not only be physically fit but to be mentally healthy as well. However, with such an informal setting for this curriculum to be taught, it is our fear that the time and importance these topics deserve will not be fully seen or heard by students. 

In Hall High School, LGBTQ issues are not exactly strictly enforced in the health curriculum. It’s essential for members of the LGBTQ community to feel welcome and comfortable in school. According to Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), “Research shows that LGBTQ students who attend schools with curriculum that is inclusive of LGBTQ people, history, and events experience a better school climate and improved academic outcomes.” Other students could also benefit from learning of LGBTQ issues or topics because they can be more aware and they can learn to better themselves and the community around them. By being educated on LGBTQ related topics, together we can create a comfortable environment where everyone feels accepted to be themselves. In order for students to feel comfortable and accepted in Hall High School and our society, teachers need to be the ones to lead an act of change. 

Sadly exclusive teaching practices aren’t unique to Hall High school, let alone Connecticut. “The laws themselves range from state to state [as of 2017]: in Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas, they pertain specifically to health courses, with most stating that teachers cannot instruct students on LGBTQ sexual health” Corinne Segal PBS News, the fact that six states mandate the exclusion of LGBTQ education is alarming in it of itself. This highlights our ever-growing need as a community to stand out and represent the many voices not heard.