California Gay History Law: Jerry Brown Signs Landmark Bill
HUFFINGTONPOST.COM - Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Thursday making California the first state in the nation to add lessons about gays and lesbians to social studies classes in public schools.
Brown, a Democrat, signed the landmark bill requiring public schools to include the contributions of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender in social studies curriculum. The Democratic-majority Legislature had passed the bill last week on a largely party-line vote.
"History should be honest," the governor 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."
The bill has drawn criticism from some churches and conservative groups that argue such instruction would expose students to a subject that some parents find objectionable.
Republican lawmakers who opposed the bill had called it a well-intentioned but ill-conceived bill. Some raised concerns that it would indoctrinate children to accept homosexuality.
State Sen. Mark Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco and the bill's author, hailed the bill signing as a step toward teaching tolerance. Supporters say the bill will teach students to be more accepting of gays and lesbians in light of the bullying that happens to gay students.
"Today we are making history in California by ensuring that our textbooks and instructional materials no longer exclude the contributions of LGBT Americans," Leno said in a statement.
California law already requires schools to teach about women, African Americans, Mexican Americans, entrepreneurs, Asian Americans, European Americans, American Indians and labor. The Legislature over the years also has prescribed specific lessons about the Irish potato famine and the Holocaust, among other topics.
The new law, SB48, requires the California Board of Education and local school districts to adopt textbooks and other teaching materials that cover the contributions and roles of sexual minorities, as soon as the 2013-2014 school year.
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