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L.A. OKs Gay-Inclusive Curriculum to Combat Bullying

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Los Angeles Unified teachers will offer lessons that promote positive images of gay individuals and their contributions to the nation as part of an anti-bullying program approved Tuesday by the school board.

The resolution directs officials to develop a plan within 90 days to address how schools will achieve these goals.

The move comes on the heels of the Legislature approving a law that requires school districts to include the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans in their social studies curriculum.

Judy Chiasson, LAUSD's human relations coordinator, said this could mean that middle school students studying history, for example, would learn about San Francisco gay rights leader Harvey Milk during a civil rights lesson or that elementary students with same-sex parents would be allowed to make two Mother's or Father's Day cards without questions or concerns being raised by teachers.

"Schools have always been leaders of social justice," Chiasson said. "Every single civil rights issue of our time has been executed first in our schools."

The plan also calls for training educators to be sensitive to the needs of gay students and parents.

School board member Steve Zimmer, who authored the resolution, said it is needed to help ensure that students feel safe and respected.

"Let the message be clear ... we love you, we respect you ... we honor you," Zimmer said.

Local civil and gay rights advocates applauded the district for reiterating its commitment to the new law and its potential to help lessen the discrimination against LGBT children.

"As the second-largest school district in the nation, what LAUSD does sets the pace for the rest of the state and the country," said James Gilliam, deputy executive director of the ACLU of Southern California.

Gilliam said the issue is especially pressing at a time when gay youth suicide and campus bullying are on the rise.

"I believe you can make a difference one person at a time ... especially through education."

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