Throughout the educational system, courses focused on the history and achievements of historically oppressed groups have never been the status quo. In recent years, as American public school systems have become more aware of the history of marginalized communities in the United States, Berkeley High School (BHS) has increased discussions and dedicated more classes to these groups.
These courses are integral to achieving equal representation in educational systems, and necessary in the pursuit of justice for all. Although we already have a department for African American studies, as well as classes for Latinx and Chicanx history, courses on women’s studies are notably missing from the course list.
Historically, BHS has done a great job in offering classes that promote inclusivity, such as African American History, African American Psychology, and Latinx History. However, BHS currently offers no classes specific to the voices of women. Over the years, students have voiced their own opinions through outlets such as the Women’s Student Union (WSU), advocating for better representation of women in BHS curriculums. They believe that women’s history is a part of all history and therefore a fundamental building block in our education.
In 2022, it’s become common knowledge that students from all backgrounds would deeply benefit from a wider range of perspectives on people both similar and dissimilar to themselves. Women’s studies classes cover a wide variety of topics beyond women’s history, such as media literacy, sexuality, race and ethnicity, queer theory, multiculturalism, and more. This would provide the BHS student body with an opportunity to widen the scope of unfamiliar topics they are exposed to, while also allowing them to become aware of personal biases and limitations in prior knowledge.
This widened view of the world is especially central to BHS in regards to consent education. As many know, sexual harm and assault have been long lasting issues in our community, and only in recent years have the proper resources become more accessible. Classes focused on women would allow topics, including sexual harm and misconduct, to be continuously discussed amongst the student body, and allow more opportunities to combat sexual violence.
Students have previously made the argument that women-focused content should not make up an entire class, but rather, be included within pre-existing classes offered at BHS. However, in a world heavily centered around the stories and accomplishments of men, it would be incredibly difficult to reconstruct curriculums that have already been set in place. Incorporating the important topics covered by women’s studies would require removing other equally important ones, making it challenging to prioritize. Adding additional courses, rather than taking away some, would be the most effective way to provide students resources who are eager to immerse themselves in women’s studies.
An opportunity has arisen to create a safe space for women at BHS, and students are hungry for that change. We must provide every student with the opportunity to be equally represented, and acknowledge the accomplishments of those who have played significant roles in shaping the course of history. It’s high time that BHS creates more women-focused classes to truly serve its students.