Gay History to be Taught in California Schools?

Teaching Students About the Contributions of LGBT People to Society?

While the fate of Prop 8 is still undecided, the California State Legislature is in another battle regarding the LGBT community. This time it’s about the community’s place in history books, and whether or not students should be taught of the contributions that LGBT people have made to both California and American society in general.

California State Senator Mark Leno
California State Senator Mark Leno

San Francisco Representative Mark Leno reintroduced the bill, The Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act, which would require state schools to teach about the contributions of gay, lesbian and transgender Americans.

Legislators actually approved this requirement five years ago, only to run into then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was not a fan of the bill, and killed it despite its approval by the Legislature.

At a recent hearing for the bill, Leno made an emotional appeal for its passage, saying that it is essential to demonstrate the LGBT community’s contributions in light of recent anti-gay bullying . He spoke of California teenager Seth Walsh, who committed suicide at the age of 13 after enduring anti-gay bullying at school. He said:

In light of the ongoing and ever-threatening phenomenon of bullying and the tragic result of suicides, it seems to me that better informed students might be more welcoming in their approach to differences among their classmates. Students would better understand that we are talking about a civil rights movement. Our collective silence on this issue perpetuates negative stereotypes of LGBT people and leads to increased bullying of young people.

Republicans are against the bill, using the typical unsubstantiated claims that it will teach kids gay sex. State Sen. Bob Huff says that it would “sexualize the training of our children at an early age.” Since when is providing positive role models and recognizing a community’s contribution to society “sexualizing” anything?

Religious groups are mixed on the issue, which is supported by California Church Impact, a group with members like the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Greek Orthodox Church and others. Opposition to teaching the positive impact of the LGBT community comes from the California Catholic Conference, the First Southern Baptist Church and the Thousand Oaks Christian Fellowship.

We hope that this will be passed, and signed into law – it was already passed five years ago, and we feel passionately that having role models is essential for gay youth. We also think that potential bullies will be less inclined to harass gays when they are taught that gay people have something positive to contribute to society.

The LGBT community is simply tired of being demonized by the right-wing, who insists that we are out to “convert” children to our dark side, or teach kids all about gay sex whenever we get the chance. We deserve the chance to share our history with the world.

What are these people so afraid of?

(via the LA Times)