California State Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, says a key aspect of history is missing from school textbooks — the contributions that homosexuals have made to California and the nation.
Kuehl has introduced a bill that would fill that void by requiring textbooks and other social science materials to discuss contributions that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people have made to the state and nation’s economy, politics and society.
The bill also would prohibit textbooks from criticizing people because of their sexual orientation. Current law sets that standard for discussions of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender and disabilities.
The bill is scheduled to be considered Wednesday by the Senate Education Committee.
Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy, R-Monrovia, has a rival bill that would ban schools from promoting socialism, humanism or homosexuality. It also is up Wednesday, in the Assembly Education Committee.
Discussions of gays and lesbians are almost nonexistent in current textbooks, say supporters of Kuehl’s legislation.
That leads “to the conclusion that they’re worthless, that they never contributed anything, when the truth is there are quite a few people who were gay and did contribute,” Kuehl says. “I think it helps both straight and gay students appreciate that talent is really scattered through our diverse population.”
Benjamin Lopez, a lobbyist for the Traditional Values Coalition, an Anaheim-based group that is fiercely opposed to homosexuality, doesn’t dispute the fact that gays have been discriminated against and have made contributions to American society.
But he contends Kuehl’s bill amounts to “social engineering and social indoctrination.”
“You’re talking about elevating a practice, a lifestyle, and putting it on par with the struggles of Blacks, women and [other] minorities,” he says. “As a minority myself, that’s tremendously offensive.”
Mountjoy says schools should be focusing on improving reading, writing and math scores, not doing “diversity training.”
But Kuehl argues that if schools are “silent about the diversity of talented people who were important in California, the impression is that only White, straight men did anything important. That leaves virtually everyone else in school believing their talents may not be sufficient.”
The bill would require schools to implement its requirements as they normally replace textbooks and other instructional materials.
— Associated Press
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