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15 Jul 2011

California schools to teach gay history

The contributions of slain San Francisco politician Harvey Milk and the Stonewall riots in New York City in 1969 that helped launch the LGBT rights movement will soon be taught in California classrooms alongside well known activists such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks who are credited for making a lasting impact on civil rights in the United States.

On Thursday, Gov Jerry Brown (D) signed the landmark FAIR (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful) Education Act making California the first state in the US to require public schools to include the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans; Pacific Islanders and persons with disabilities. This bill would also prohibit discriminatory instruction and discriminatory materials from being adopted by the State Board of Education.

Harvey Bernard Milk (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978) was an American politician who became the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. On November 27, 1978, Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White, another city supervisor who had recently resigned but wanted his job back. From wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Milk

Californian law already requires state schools to teach about the contributions of Native Americans, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Asian-Americans, and European Americans, among other groups.

"History should be honest," Brown said in a statement.

"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," he said.

"Denying LGBT people their rightful place in history gives our young people an inaccurate and incomplete view of the world around them," said Mark Leno, a democratic state senator who wrote the bill.

The Democratic-controlled Legislature passed a similar bill in 2006, but Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who was then the governor, vetoed it. The measure won final passage from the state legislature earlier this month when it passed on a 49-25 party-line vote, with Democrats in favour and Republicans opposed.

Although the new law will take effect in January, state textbooks and curriculum are not likely to be updated until 2015.

According to a factsheet published by Equality California, an analysis of the 2000 U.S. Census revealed that there are more than 92,000 LGBT households in California (not including single LGBT people or LGBT couples who do not cohabitate), and about 6% of voters in a 2000 statewide election identified as LGBT.

"While LGBT people represent a sizable and important part of the state, mention of the LGBT community’s role in California history and contemporary society is virtually non-existent in textbooks and other school instructional materials."

It also cited the Preventing School Harassment Survey in California which found that schools where the majority of youth report having learned about LGBT people in the curriculum, only 11% of students report being bullied, but that number more than doubles to 24% if the majority of students in a school say they haven't learned about LGBT people.

United States

Reader's Comments

1. 2011-07-15 22:45  
The right path =)
2. 2011-07-16 01:56  
For once I am happy I pay California state income taxes...if it pays for this fair balanced education in the schools.

3. 2011-07-16 01:56  
I personally think they could keep the Stonewall story out of their curriculum as it is a complicated subject...but I am happy that HM has been added...going to be a hard sell to children though. Good luck teachers. But also look at the target date, REALLY? 2015?

Although I live in Asia, I still pay property tax {income tax does not pay for education (FYI Michael)} and I hope all states will follow this motion.
Comment edited on 2011-07-16 02:14:08
4. 2011-07-16 04:46  
At a time when American students barely know when the US Civil War was fought; few can name 5 past presidents; even fewer can handle basic math or science, we are going to waste time teaching "gay history". I am so glad I am gay and cannot have children.
5. 2011-07-16 05:45  
Brilliant and thank you Jerry Brown. With regard to #4's comment you need to figure out what your real story is as your comments are both confusing and condescending to the gay community.
Comment edited on 2011-07-16 05:45:45
6. 2011-07-16 10:37  
7. 2011-07-16 10:37  
8. 2011-07-16 14:21  
n RE: Post 5 There should be nothing confusing about my statement -or condescending either, for that matter.

Schools in the US, especially states like Cali are turning out children that can barely read (or not at all), cannot spell ( or even speak proper english), cannot handle basic mathematics, and have little or no knowledge of major historical figures or events that shaped the direction of this country, yet they want to teach gay history.

I think focusing on fundamentals first is much more important.

I am very glad that I cannot have a child, as I would not want them to become a product of today's public school system
9. 2011-07-16 14:37  
Re:post #8-I am well aware of the school issues in the US and more than well aware of all the problems the US is facing. Not to divert but that is why I said good-bye in 1983 and have never looked back again. However the other side of the discussion is there are many many many schools across the US that turn out top level students so you can argue the point either way. Teaching future generations about gay history and what men & women of my era fought for is most certainly required unless your an advocate of teen suicides which is on the rise daily. If you focus only on Calif maybe so but that is generalizing.If the school system is so shitty as you allude to then why do so many parents from around the world (Asia in particular) spend enormous amounts of money to send their children to schools in the US? Regarding your happiness about not being able to have children it's best I don't comment.
Comment edited on 2011-07-16 14:42:40
10. 2011-07-16 16:41  
Kuman #8 - Countries, languages and nationalities begin with capital letters, which includes English. Back to school - please write English 100 times. :-)
Comment edited on 2011-07-16 16:44:42
11. 2011-07-16 17:03  
LMAO # 10 Brilliant...........guess #8 is a product of the US shitty school system.
12. 2011-07-16 22:16  
Oddly enough, I occasionally make typos ( especially at 2 am ). However, I would regard the serious lack of punctuation ( commas are our friends ) found in post 9 more of an affront to proper grammar than forgetting to hit the shift key.

The broader issue here relates to achieving a functional literacy and knowledge of useful life skills. That needs to be the first priority of public schools.

Bobo, I am certain you are aware that one major cause of teen suicide is a negative body image and everyone is reminded daily that childhood obesity is an epidemic (makes it sound like an illness, doesn't it?)
Quite possibly we should consider a curriculum that teaches "fat history", after all many fat people have been the source of important contributions to the upbuilding of our society. Our fat youth need to know this.

I do not know how long you have been fat Bobo, but if you today are happy as a fat man, just think how nice it would be if others could be told from a young age that fat people can live a life of value too.

13. 2011-07-17 05:06  
Gov. Brown said history should be honest. I agree.

The complete truth is often a two-edged sword, whether it is gay history or any other kind of history. So while I am proud that California is once again at the cutting edge, I am concerned that there would be more, not less, bigotry toward gays when a classroom discussion turns from positive contributions by the gay community to the AIDS epidemic, regardless of the fairness in linking gay sexual practices to the spread of AIDS.
14. 2011-07-17 06:03  
#12 I have been chubby and/or fat and/or obese most of my life and it has never presented a problem in either my business or private life. I have total self confidence and self esteem both which cannot be taught in schools. You either have it or you don't ( Mama Rose@Gypsy). What you see is what you get and if someone doesn't like it well then tough shit. From your revealing comments it confirms what I suspected and what my husband said when he saw your pictures.Abiding by the rules of Fridae I am not permitted to post our thoughts here.Teaching a teen or anyone about famous fat people or how to deal with being fat is just a dumb comment.Teaching them how to eat properly,exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle is a smart comment. The major cause of teen suicides is depression followed by:
Divorce of parents.
Violence in the home.
Inability to find success at school.
Feelings of worthlessness.
Rejection by friends or peers.
Substance abuse.
Death of someone close to the teenager.
The suicide of a friend or someone he or she "knows" online
So do your homework and check your facts before you make random comments that have no validity.I will not continue this banter with you as it is a waste of time but it is obvious you have some serious issues and demons to deal with. So from one very secure 100% gay man to one very insecure and maybe gay man try to find happiness and a meaningful life. I would not care to read about what you may have done to yourself or someone else one day in The Daily News or The New York Post.
Comment edited on 2011-07-17 06:56:20
15. 2011-07-17 11:34  
This is nice.
16. 2011-07-17 12:08  
Post 14 - It seems you ou take yourself far too seriously and maybe think too highly of yourself. Needless to say there was a bit of hperbole in my example. Needless to say, a child ( or adult) that is overweight, might very well be rejected by friends and/or feel worthless, especially with all the negative attention that those that struggle with their weight often endure - including belittling remarks from parents,familyand friends - and those fall in your list of markers that lead to suicide ( interesting that sexual orientation did not make the list, like your claim in an earlier post).

I really have no major issue or demons n my life to deal with. I, like you state yourself to be, am very comfortable in who I am and how I live. I enjoy my life fully and each day I proudly proclaim upon waking " This is the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it". Life is always good.

I know not what my photos seem to reveal to your boyfriend, but then again, since I have not met him or you, I could really care less what he ( or you) think, as you know nothing of me. Remember the true measure of a man is the internal, not the external.

While I try to refrain from casting apersions upon someones general character, it seems something you like to do to those that differ in opinion from you. So maybe you are not as secure as you think, since you appear to like to tear others down.

I laugh most heartily at your characterization of me as a "mabye" gay man. That makes my day. I can indeed go to sleep tonight in good humor.

I will stick my by initial comments - teach reading, writing, science and math in the schools

Comment #17 was deleted by its author on 2011-07-17 16:53
18. 2011-07-17 17:48  
1/ou is not in the English vocabulary.
2/Its hyperbole not hperbole.
3/Rejection by family or peers covers sexual orientation.
4/Issue should be plural if you follow with demons which is plural.
5/Kuman a province in Southwestern Albania and a Protestant.This now sheds even more light onto the persona being dealt with.I shudder to think what lurks in "the vault".
1 Sola scriptura
2 Sola fide
3 Sola gratia
4 Solus Christus
5 Soli Deo gloria
6/Its aspersions not apersions
7/I agree you should stick by your initial comments as you could sure use them.
Comment edited on 2011-07-17 18:29:04
19. 2011-07-17 19:23  
Post #16. I totally agree with your belief in the importance and relevance of science and maths subjects that is essential to success. However, I believe that teaching gay history is just as worthy. As a gay person, I feel I am honoring those LGBTS who have made significant strides to earn a place in history when I get to learn about them. Such role models can only empower, and do good to stand equal in society along with the mainstream. We should not just be secondary to them.

However, I do respect your opinions, which is a rightful thing to do in any civil conversations.
20. 2011-07-18 01:00  
18 - typos - we all make them. I think faster than I can type.

I shall waste no more of my time trying to alleviate your ignorance on this subject.

Be well and good luck in dealing with your issues and demons.
21. 2011-07-18 08:32  
Comment edited on 2011-07-18 14:53:48
22. 2011-07-18 09:21  
I've always believed that it doesn't matter what you were, what matters most is what you have/will become
23. 2011-07-18 10:21  
Good comment #22. Same in business nobody cares how you got to where you are just that you are there now.
24. 2011-07-19 17:30  
Is there such a thing as "gay history?" Surely it's all "history?"

Let's not run the risk of confusing sexuality with race or creed. Some of us believe that reinforcing the notion of LGBT people as a distinct group goes no way towards our incorporation into mainstream

Integration means accepting the role of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people across the board, but in the context of a wider world. We do not have our own distinct historical narrative - we've been everywhere, at all times. Alexander the Great, General Montgomery, Harvey Milk. These people were, however, only part of a story that included infinitely more straight people than gays.

Don't concoct some half-baked narrative to discuss the "progression" of gays through history as some kind of continuous, interlinked movement. It won't work. Any historian worth their salt would laugh you out of town.

The civil rights movement is a feature of a certain period in AMERICAN history, sure, but it is foolhardy to consider the African American struggle for equality as indicative of a broader historical trend. Racial tensions in Europe or Africa are markedly different from those in the USA.

LGBT people cross all cultures, time periods and historical events. In that respect, we're so universal as to not constitute a distinct "group." Suggestions to the contrary are the product of the gay "otherness" some of us have created in an attempt to mould us into a distinct social group. We are no such thing.

My heritage as a gay man has a connection to Stonewall. It also has a connection to the Summer of Love, the Second World War and the Jacobite Rebellion.

Our history is world history.
25. 2011-07-20 10:07  
Very very very well put #24. I bow to your wisdom and comment above.
26. 2011-07-21 15:23  
I was thinking the same thing as you Xepherus when I read that they were starting to teach "gay history", maybe I'm just thinking too much into the syntax, but it did give me a little jolt.

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