A close-up of the rainbow flag which represents the LGBT community.
California gay history bill SB48 has reached the governor's desk. (Photo Credit: CC BY/essygie/Flickr)

California gay history bill SB48 has passed through the state assembly, reports the Associated Press. Lawmakers in Sacramento voted 49-25 in favor of the bill, which would make California public schools the first in the nation to weave lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history into social studies curriculum. SB48 now goes before Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not indicated whether he will sign the bill or veto it, as previous GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did to similar legislation in 2006.

Gay history bill prohibits bashing

In addition to including gay history in textbooks – a move that GOP critics in the state legislature have called “homosexual indoctrination” and “sexual brainwashing” – SB48 will require that the LGBT community be portrayed in a neutral or positive light by the time the 2013-2014 school year arrives. Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco says SB48 will prove crucial in combating the epidemic of bullying in schools. Democratic Assembly Speaker John Pérez of Los Angeles sees the California gay history bill as overdue.

“This bill will require California schools to present a more accurate and nuanced view of American history in our social science curriculum by recognizing the accomplishments of groups that are not often recognized,” said Pérez, California’s first openly gay speaker.

Republicans cry homosexual agenda

Critics of SB48, such as GOP Assemblyman Tim Donnelly from Twin Peaks, say the bill promotes a homosexual agenda and is an affront to Christians.

“I think it’s one thing to say that we should be tolerant,” said Donnelly. “It is something else altogether to say that my children are going to be taught that this lifestyle is good.”

SB48 author Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) says he hopes Brown will sign the bill because it will serve to combat censorship in the state’s public education system.

“Bottom line, it’s only beneficial to share with students the broad diversity of the human experience and that our democracy protects everyone,” Leno said.

Learning from those who have gone before

Current California law requires public schools to include material about women, entrepreneurs, labor movements and ethnic minorities. How individual schools implement material into the curriculum is left to each school’s discretion.

While addressing the California Assembly, Pérez referenced the contributions of important figures from gay history. One was Friedrich von Steuben, a military adviser to George Washington and founding father of the Continental Army. Another was mathematician Alan Turing, who helped crack the secret codes of Nazi forces during World War II and who is one of the founding fathers of the modern computer.

Harvey Milk: A supporter of gay history

Sources

Associated Press: http://www.startribune.com/nation/125043774.html

Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-gay-rights-20110706,0,3768798.story

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