Yesterday the California's State Assembly approved a bill that would require public schools in the state to include lessons on the contributions of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. Of course, some would prefer that teachers continue to pretend gay people don't exist when discussing history (and even current events).
In April, the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act passed the California Senate, and now it's made it through the Assembly. Reuters reports that the bill passed 49-25, with no support from Republicans. Now Governor Jerry Brown, who's a Democrat, has 12 days to sign it into law or veto it. Brown hasn't discussed the bill publicly, and the bill will automatically become a law if he does nothing.
Public schools in California are already required to discuss contributions by women and various racial and ethnic groups, and the law would add homosexuals to the list. Rather than spending a single month coloring in rainbows and drawings of Harvey Milk, it seems LGBT history would be integrated into existing social studies curriculum.
Senator Mark Leno, who authored the bill, has said he hopes the new law will help combat bullying. However, Republican Assemblyman Donald Wagner complains that it will simply further the LGBT "agenda":
"Writing these provisions into textbooks will further an agenda rather than teach facts," Wagner said. "When we do things, we politicize them because that's the nature of politics. We should leave education to the educators."
Somebody needs to break it to Wagner that events like the persecution of homosexuals in World War II and the Stonewall riots are actual facts. There are news reports and photographs and everything!
Luckily for Wagner and other Republicans, they'll have a few years to get used to the law (assuming Brown doesn't veto it). The state can't afford to buy new textbooks until 2015, so until then kids will continue learning about only straight and/or closeted historical figures, and drawing in the correct amount of stars on the flag.