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article imageCalifornia textbooks now must include gay history

By Kim I. Hartman     Jul 15, 2011 in World
Sacramento - California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law that will require that public school textbooks and curriculum include the contributions of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people, and other cultural groups, in American history.
With the signing of the bill, California has become the first state in the country that mandates schools instruct students in gay history.
The Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act [pdf], sponsored by Senator Mark Leno (D- San Francisco), will prohibit discrimination in content in the social studies curriculum taught in public schools beginning in two years.
In a statement released by the office of Gov. Brown, he said:
"History should be honest. This bill revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books. It represents an important step forward for our state, and I thank Senator Leno for his hard work on this historic legislation."
The Fair Act (SB48) will require that "the contributions of the LGBT community, as well as Disabled Americans and Pacific Islanders, are fairly and accurately portrayed in the instructional material used in the public school system," according to Leno.
The Senate bill won passage in the California House last week. The bill was overwhelmingly favored by Democratic lawmakers in the 49-25 vote. Since its introduction to the Senate by Leno, "the bill has drawn criticism from churches and conservative groups who say instruction in LGBT history is objectionable to some parents," reports Associated Press.
Leno responded by saying, “We are selectively censoring history when we exclude LGBT Americans, or any other group of people, from our textbooks and instructional materials. We can’t tell our youth that it’s OK to be yourself and expect them to treat their peers with dignity and respect when we deliberately deny them accurate information about the historical contributions of Americans who happened to be LGBT.”
The new law will require the change to the curriculum to begin by the 2013-2014 school year. MSNBC reports, the California Department of Education has said that "new textbooks will not be adopted until 2015," due to budget constraints.
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