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Bill Requiring Schools to Include Gays, Lesbians in Social Studies Curriculum Goes to Governor's Desk

By Jeff Hudson - July 7, 2011

California legislators sent Gov. Brown a bill on Tuesday that, if signed, would require California public schools to include the contributions of the gays and lesbians, people with disabilities, and others as part of the social studies curriculum.

The bill, SB 48 by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), cleared the California Assembly on a 49-25 vote. The bill had cleared the California Senate in March, and now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not indicated whether or not he will sign it. A similar bill was vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006.

Assembly Speaker John Pérez (the first openly gay Assembly Speaker), said “this bill would require California schools to present a more accurate and nuanced view of American history by recognizing the accomplishments of groups that are not often recognized.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks, in the Pomona area) objected to the bill, saying “I think it’s one thing to say we should be tolerant. It is something else altogether to say that my children are going to be taught that this lifestyle is good.” Some religious groups have warned that the bill would drive more parents to take their children out of public schools.

The bill would require the State Board of Education and local school districts to add lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans, persons with disabilities and others to the list of groups of people whose role and contributions shall be accurately portrayed in instructional materials and included in social science instruction, and adds sexual orientation and religion to the list of characteristics that shall not be reflected adversely in adopted instructional materials.  The new requirement would go into effect during the next revision of state approved curriculum, perhaps as early as 2013-14.

Editor's Note:  Jeff Hudson is the editor of EdBrief and an award-winning education reporter and writer in print, radio and television media.