Calif. Bill on Teaching Gay History Clears Another Hurdle

By Erik W. Robelen — July 06, 2011 1 min read
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California would become the first state to require public schools to incorporate the history and contributions of homosexuals into social studies classes under a bill approved yesterday by the state Assembly. The measure, passed earlier this year by the Senate, now heads to the desk of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who has yet to signal whether he’ll sign it. (Apparently, he has 12 days to make up his mind.)

In both the Assembly and the Senate, the bill was approved on a party-line vote, with all Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.

“This bill will require California schools to present a more accurate and nuanced view of American history in our social science curriculum by recognizing the accomplishments of groups that are not often recognized,” said Assembly Speaker John Perez, a Democrat and the first openly gay speaker of the California Assembly, according to an Associated Press story.

Advocates also say the measure would curb anti-gay stereotypes and thereby reduce bullying of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students.

But Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly said he was offended as a Christian that the bill was being used to promote a “homosexual agenda” in public schools, the AP story says.

“I think it’s one thing to say that we should be tolerant,” Donnelly was quoted as saying. “It is something else altogether to say that my children are going to be taught that this lifestyle is good.”

The bill would add LGBT students—as well as persons with disabilities—to the list of groups whose roles and contributions must be “accurately portrayed” in social-science instruction and instructional materials. In addition, it would prohibit the state or school districts from adopting textbooks or other instructional materials that “reflect adversely” on a person’s sexual orientation.

For more on the legislation and the debate surrounding it, check out this EdWeek story from April.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.