Calif. Lawmakers Debate Requiring LGBT Studies In School

04/05/2011 06:01 pm ET | Updated Nov 29, 2011
  • Jessica Prois Executive Editor of HuffPost Impact, HuffPost Good News

Just as textbooks devote chapters to the achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Susan B. Anthony, Democratic lawmakers want school curricula to include the study of contributions made by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

Lawmakers are trying to resuscitate a plan that would require state schools to teach about LGBT achievements, the Los Angeles Times reports. Legislators approved the requirement five years ago but ran into opposition from then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

According to the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, the existing law requires that "men, women, black Americans, American Indians, Mexicans, Asians, Pacific Island people, and other ethnic groups to the economic, political, and social development of California and the United States of America, be equally represented in curriculum."

State Sen. Mark Leno, who is gay and introduced the bill SB 48, says it's time to recognize LGBT advancements as an equally important historical movement, reports Youth Radio, a public station that features content produced by young people:

"Imagine how different the interaction among students would be if, in an age-appropriate fashion -- this issue of homosexuality and this issue of the LGBT community is all a part of a civil rights movement. Not unlike other civil rights movements," said Leno.

Republicans are fighting the proposal, however. State Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) said at a recent education committee hearing that it would "sexualize the training of our children at an early age," according to the The Los Angeles Times. The Times reports further opposition in a letter from religious leaders:

"At a time when our state lacks dollars to pay for the current needs in education, this Legislature is actually considering adding more financial burden on schools to pay for new textbooks that will teach so-called gay history."

If implemented, the new law would revise social science textbooks and could reach farther than just the Golden State. Publishers often tailor their books to California, a major purchaser of educational texts, according to Cal Coast News.

Although some teachers are against the proposed change, the Los Angeles Times reports both the California Teachers Association and the Los Angeles Unified School District support it.

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