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Monday, 18 April 2011 21:14

A Law Could Push Schools To Teach Gay History In California

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It could be a big first in California. Following requests of students wishing to study black's history and women's history, a bill could become law this week if approved by the State Senate which would mandate schools to also teach gay history.

According to the Los Angeles TimesLos Angeles Times, the bill does not set specific requirements about what should be taught to students, it does say that contributions of gays and lesbians in the state and country must be included in social science instruction.

So Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the state, and Bayard Rustin, a civil rights activist, may take a prominent place in the state’s history books.

Of course that would be a great step because if, in the schools, students speak about the history of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people it would prevent bullying and would break stereotypes.

Of course there are opponents with serious arguments like "when and how to talk about same-sex relationships should be left to parents.

The same bill had already tried to pass in 2006 but the Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had stopped it indicated that school curriculum should be left up to local schools.

There is a new governor now and both supporters and opponents of the bill expect it will pass the Democratic Assembly and be signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat who has been supportive of gay rights.

“It is very basic to me that people dislike and fear that with which we are less familiar,” said Mark Leno, who sponsored the bill and is one of the first openly gay men elected to the State Senate. Students who come to view their fellow classmates as regular members of society, rather than misfits, will find that “their behavior changes for the better,” Mr. Leno said.

Carolyn Laub, the director of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, 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.”

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