In the history of the world, gays and lesbians have figured prominently in contributing to many different societies. One such person is Bayard Rustin, an African American man the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum describes as the “the Socrates of the civil rights movement.”

“Rustin's activism was rooted in his Quaker upbringing and deep belief in the concept of one human family, with all members of that family being equal,” the JFK Library notes.

In California, a group called “Stop SB 48” wants to repeal a state law that allows students to learn about Rustin and other important people in history who were gay.

One of Rustin's biggest contributions to American society was his work with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as they sought civil rights for African Americans and a more just American society.

As deputy director of the 1963 March on Washington, Rustin was one of the main organizers for what's considered to be a watershed event in the history of the American civil rights movement — King gave his famous and influential “I Have a Dream” speech at the mass gathering.

Rustin, though, dedicated his entire life to world peace and social justice.

As the JFK Library writes, “Imprisoned for militant pacifist activities during World War II, he was involved in nearly every major civil rights effort from the 1940s on. In a life filled with causes, Bayard Rustin also led crusades against atomic weapons in France and anti-Semitism in West Germany, and assisted in the independence campaigns of several African nations.”

In July, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 48, also known as the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act, into law.

It revised an existing law that adds the LGBT community to a list of under-represented cultural and ethnic groups that are covered in textbooks and other instructional materials in schools.

Stop SB 48 wants to repeal FAIR through a ballot measure, and the group has now started a petition drive to get the initiative on the June, 2012, ballot.

In seeking the repeal of FAIR, Stop SB 48 is creating the same kind of coalition of religious groups and conservative think tanks that worked to get California voters to approve anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 in 2008.

Courage Campaign, Equality California, and other gay rights and social justice groups are undertaking a “decline to sign” effort to keep California voters from signing Stop SB 48's petition.

“They want kids to grow up thinking gay people have never contributed to society at all,” Courage Campaign founder Rick Jacobs recently wrote in an email to his members.

In a regular series of posts, L.A. Weekly will highlight those important gays and lesbians in history — the same people Stop SB 48 doesn't want California students to know about.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

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