A bill that passed California's state Senate on Thursday mandates that high-school history textbooks mention gay and lesbian pioneers, just as other state laws have required that key native American and African-American figures be included in texts. If Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bill into law — he has not yet taken a position — California will become the first state to take this step. And since the textbooks produced for California's huge market are sold across the nation, smaller states would likely follow California's lead, willingly or not. Does LGBT history belong in public schools?
Yes, it's about time: "Most textbooks don't include any information about LGBT historical figures or the LGBT civil rights movement, which has great significance to both California and U.S. history," said Democratic state Sen. Mark Leno, who sponsored the bill, in a press release. "We can't tell our youth that it's OK to be yourself and expect them to treat their peers with dignity and respect" if we squelch this history.
"California Senate passes landmark LGBT education bill"
Actually, the timing couldn't be worse: "This is all absurd," says a group of conservative organizations who oppose the bill, in a letter quoted by the Los Angeles Times. California's public schools are in the midst of their worst financial crisis ever, and it makes little sense to make schools pay for revised textbooks when education budgets can't even meet basic needs.
"Textbook standards: California lawmakers fight over bill to teach students about gay people's contributions"
This bill's critics are bigots: Beyond the financial concerns, says Mike Vilensky at New York, some opponents of the bill think homosexuality should be off-limits altogether, since it might offend certain students' sensibilities. All the more reason why California should make this bill a reality — "so we don't raise a generation of ignorant jerks."
"California state senate passes bill requiring teaching of gay history in public schools"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- California's epic drought
- How to be the star of a cocktail party where you don't know anyone
Subscribe to the Week