Gay History Now Required, by Law, to Be Taught in California Social-Studies Textbooks
Another reason for SoCal Republicans to secede: The children of California will now be required to learn about homosexual contributions to history, a bill proposed by openly gay San Francisco Senator Mark Leno (figures!) and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown today.
Crazy! Awesome! And kind of hilarious --
If you're very quiet, you can hear the big textbook companies and right-wing "family values" freaks shrieking, wicked-witch style, in the blaring light of NorCal's gay pride turned public policy. (Founder of TOMS shoes very much included.)
Such a law is unprecedented in any other state. Straight from SB 48, also known as the FAIR Education Act:
This bill would update references to certain categories of persons and additionally would require instruction in social sciences to include a study of the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and members of other cultural groups, to the development of California and the United States.
Before the bill was passed, gay-rights group Equality California released a statement saying, "With this bill, we will have the opportunity to define who we are, instead of being defined by harmful messages filled with bigotry that dehumanize us." And upon receiving Governor Brown's blessing, they follow up with:
"Today marks a monumental victory for the LGBT equality movement as the struggle of the diverse LGBT community in California will no longer be erased from history. Thanks to the FAIR Education Act, California students, particularly LGBT youth, will find new hope and inspiration and experience a more welcoming learning environment."
Leno, understandably, is more stoked than anybody, declaring that "today we are making history" and thanking the more-than-ever LGBT-friendly governor "for recognizing that the LGBT community, its accomplishments and its ongoing efforts for first-class citizenship are important components of California's history."
Bet a certain senator is hoping he might make the 2011 local-government chapter of all those brand-new textbooks they're going to have to print, eh?
The bill will hit book companies especially hard, as they'll be forced to release different social-studies editions for California than the rest country. Jesus groups like the California Family Council aren't too happy, either: They're calling SB 48 "blatant pro-homosexual history curricula on innocent young children."
Another group, Save California, calls it "sexual brainwashing." Ha!
Then what, we wonder, would one call the Los Alamitos School Board's mandate that AP science students be taught global warming as a possible conspiracy theory, so that liberal and conservative views were equally represented? Or the crusade to teach intelligent design alongside evolution to freaking college students?
A more sane argument against Leno's gay-history bill might be that separating out the accomplishments of gay people from straight people in history implies that their gayness might have had something to do with their greatness. But if they're recognized mostly for their actions in the gay-rights movement, that would kind of be true -- just like we currently study the contributions of women and minorities under the headlines "Women's History," "Black History," etc. Of course, white men's history is just "History." Not ideal, but true.
Another conservative, Benjamin Lopez of the Anaheim-based Traditional Values Coalition, took a more practical negative angle than some of his cohorts, via the Los Angeles Times:
[Lopez] said the schools should be focusing on doing better on important skills such as reading, writing and math.
"It's a sad day for the state of California,'' said Lopez, legislative analyst and advocate for the group. "We have failed at our core educational mission and yet we are now going to inject gay studies into the classrooms. It's absurd and offensive.''
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.