California Schools Struggle to Teach LGBT History

Schoolgirl 1955 (Orlando / Hulton Archive / Getty)
Orlando / Hulton Archive / Getty

The FAIR Education Act, which forces California public schools to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) contributions to children’s history classes, has left schools struggling to figure out how to implement the mandate with little guidance from the state, according to the Contra Costa Times.

The bill was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in July; bill sponsor Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) stated, “Denying LGBT people their rightful place in history gives our young people an inaccurate and incomplete view of the world around them.”

Concerned Women for America vehemently opposed the bill, writing, “Under the guise of student safety and bullying prevention, SB 48 is very plainly another step toward complete normalization of transgenderism, homosexuality and bisexuality through the public schools prompting open discussions, in classrooms of all ages, about the sexual practices of one to three percent of the population.”

The bill’s passage was hailed by LGBT activists. However, the Times‘ Jennifer Modenessi notes, “the state left implementation up to local schools–with little guidance and no funding.”

Some districts have raced ahead: The San Jose Unified School District convened its social studies teachers and reportedly spent several days searching for ways to obey the law. The Acalanes Union High School District posted speeches and newspaper articles online that referenced LGBT history.

Yet in the Oakland Unified School District, progress is slower, according to the Times. The Orinda School District asked the UC Berkeley History-Social Science Project for help. Others are looking for assistance elsewhere.

The Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Sonoma State University offered a report with recommendations for the state’s implementation of LGBT material, including stories of Gold Rush-era men and women trading roles, as well as homosexual relationships that developed as the Industrial Revolution permitted rural homosexuals to thrive in the anonymity of big cities, the Times reports.


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