Proposed California law would require kids learn gay history

Mon. April 18, 2011 6:14 AM by News Staff

Sacramento, Calif. - A law recently passed by the California State Senate would require public schools teach students about gay history.

The bill, sponsored by gay State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco/Marin), adds "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender" to existing laws about whose history gets taught in the schools. California schools are already required to teach students about Native American, labor, and Mexican American history.

Leno said that straight and LGBT kids who learn LGBT history in school are more likely to treat each other with kindness.

"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," Leno said in a press release. "This selective censorship sends the wrong message to all young people, and especially to those who do not identify as straight. We can't tell our youth that it's OK to be yourself and expect them to treat their peers with dignity and respect while we deny them accurate information about the historical contributions of Americans who happened to be LGBT."

The bill would also prohibit schools from including any instructional material that reflects negatively on LGBT Americans.

The bill passed the State Senate on a 23-14 party line vote and now goes to the Assembly.

If it's passed, Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign it. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is regarded as a supporter of gay rights, refused to sign a similar bill because he said it interfered with local school districts' power.