Hohenstein celebrates inclusion of disability-inclusive curriculum in Pennsylvania’s Education Code

HARRISBURG, July 1 – State Rep. Joe Hohenstein, D-Phila., on Friday said he’s celebrating the fact that disability inclusive curriculum will be incorporated into Pennsylvania’s Education Code.

“For those of us who live with disabilities, this is a huge victory,” Hohenstein said. “Disability inclusive curriculum is enlightening and can bring us closer together. It is a shared truth that exclusion and failure to talk about diversity breeds stigma, shame, ignorance and misunderstanding. Every child deserves to be seen.

“Transcending identity, disability inclusive curriculum teaches our youth about our history,” Hohenstein added. “By opening the minds of our youth to these lessons, realities and stories, which are too often overlooked, our children can build a brighter future that can include everyone, regardless of ability.”

Hohenstein said that he and state Rep. Jason Ortitay, R-Washington/Allegheny, introduced legislation that would encourage disability inclusive curriculum in schools across the commonwealth. During a hearing held by the House Special Education Subcommittee, Hohenstein said, they heard many stories from advocates who shared the pain of exclusion and not being represented.

He said those stories were much like his own.

“I knew that stigma well throughout my youth, uncomfortably aware of my visible hearing aid,” Hohenstein said. “Perhaps if I had seen representation in my curriculum I would have lived with the pride of my disability. My hope is that with disability inclusive curriculum, we can come closer to celebrating disability and diversity with pride and we can bring about inclusion in our society, as well as a sense of internal pride and celebration in our differences.”

The House passed the Education Code bill, H.B. 1642, by a 181-19 vote. It now returns to the Senate for their concurrence.