The political ideology of Colorado may seem to be quite different from that of many Republican states, which forbid books, language, and lessons that reflect the diversity and adversity of the past and present. Colorado values are not reflected in the new K-3 social studies standards presented to the state school board. They are more similar to the dog whistle politics seen in states such as Florida. The new K-3 social studies recommendation deprives Latinos and LGBT families of their identity and history and would negatively impact all young children.

As a state, we need to do more to represent the diversity of our student population in our education system, not less. It is usually only during designated months that Latino, Black, and LGBT history is discussed, with the rest of the year being American History in its colorless form. Those of us who don’t represent white cis American history often have to do our own homework to find our history and it’s not extra credit.

The adoption of these new standards would rob our children of the work of great writers like Hans Christian Anderson, whose fairy tales inspired many Disney movies, like Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, and Princess and the Pea, and who also was gay.

Those same attitudes rob children of today’s champions such as WNBA basketball player Sue Bird, our first Latina astronaut Ellen Ochoa, or Dr. Antonia Novella, the first woman and Latina-appointed surgeon general in 1990.

Children in kindergarten through third grade are at a pivotal point in their lives when they begin to identify their dreams and goals. A key component of education especially at this stage is observation. It stifles their dreams if they are not shown that people like them, Latinos, Asians, Indigenous, LGBTQ, or Black people can achieve success.

When children observe behaviors, actions, and possibilities, they can also learn from them. In 2019, Colorado passed a law intended to level the playing field by ensuring that the contributions of the Latinos, Asian, Black, indigenous, and LGBTQ populations were also taught in schools and these recommendations that are aimed at silencing these contributions are in violation of this law. Children will not hear about leaders like Helen Zia, who founded American Citizens for Justice, an Asian American nonprofit that provides resources for people who face discrimination, and who is also a Lesbian.

As a result of these recommendations, history and experiences are erased. These recommendations tell thousands of LGBTQ kids and hundreds of thousands of BIPOC children that they are invisible, and it deprives all children of learning about the amazing diversity and grit that is represented in our history.

In a nutshell, these recommendations are dog-whistle politics that seek to politicize children’s lives. Right-wing white nationalist extremists should be warned that this does not happen in Colorado, that we do not erase people, that we respect them, that we thank them for their contributions to the great country that we live in, and that we will use their experience to make our country a better place. The Colorado State Board of Education should reject the recommendations sending a message to Colorado students, families, and leaders that their history, identity, and dreams matter.

Lorena Garcia is the CEO of the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition which offers programs, courses, and other community resources that support schools, parents, students, and childcare providers throughout Colorado. We believe every child deserves access to a high-quality education, so we help bridge opportunity gaps by investing in educators and caregivers.