California to Become First U.S. State to Teach Gay History in Schools

California to Become First U.S. State to Teach Gay History in Schools

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Harvey Milk

California will potentially become the first U.S. state in the nation to include school lessons regarding issues affecting gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people. Schools in California will be allowed under law to use discretion on when to begin the lessons.

San Francisco’s Mark Leno sponsored the bill that passed the senate vote by 23-14. Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill into law should it land on his desk as anticipated.

Brown shared, “We are second-class citizens and children are listening. When they see their teachers don’t step up to the plate when their classmate is being harassed literally to death, they are listening and they get the message that there is something wrong with those people.”

Senator Doug La Malfa had a different opinion on the matter. He shared, “I’m deeply troubled kids would have to contemplate at a very, very early age, when many of us are teaching abstinence … what is sexuality.”
Stonewall Riots

According to the New York Times, Carolyn Laub, the director of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, lobbied for the legislation and cited the experience of an Orange County student as an example of how the law might work. When the student learned that the civil rights protests of the 1960s would be discussed in history class, he asked the teacher to talk about the Stonewall riots.

“Suddenly students see he is part of a broader community, and they have a much better understanding of that community in the context of the rest of the world,” Ms. Laub said. “It has absolutely nothing to do with sex; it’s about entire communities that are left out.”

California law already requires schools to cover the contributions to the state and nation of women, African Americans, Mexican Americans, entrepreneurs, Asian Americans, European Americans, American Indians and labor activists. The new bill will also add the disabled to the list.

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