A rainbow gay pride flag, sporting the stars of the U.S. flag.
Gov. Jerry Brown as signed SB 48 into California law. (Photo Credit: CC BY/dbking/Flickr)

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation into law Thursday that will change the way history is taught in California public schools. School history textbooks must how include the historical contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. California is the first in the United States to require this inclusion.

SB 48: ‘History should be honest’

Including the achievements of the LGBT community acknowledges that “history should be honest,” said Gov. Brown. Yet that hasn’t stopped California’s GOP legislative base from sounding loud complaints over what Republicans have called a “gay agenda.”

“It’s a sad day for the state of California,” said Benjamin Lopez of the Anaheim-based Traditional Values Coalition. “We have failed at our core educational mission, and yet we are now going to inject gay studies into the classrooms. It’s absurd and offensive.”

Brown sees legislation like SB 48 as fundamental to combating discrimination and bullying.

“(SB 48) revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books,” said Brown.

The California Dream (Act)

California SB 48 is just one of many bills that crossed Brown’s desk this week. The Los Angeles Times reports that one bill (AB 130) that the governor is expected to sign will give undocumented immigrants the ability to apply for private financial aid in the California State University, California Community Colleges and University of California systems. AB 130 is part of the California Dream Act, which Brown first announced during his 2010 election campaign.

Much like SB 48, AB 130 is about fairness and inclusiveness, implied Democratic Sen. Ron Calderon of Montebello, Calif. He argued the state should not stand in the way of students who graduate from California high schools with good enough grades.

“Their accomplishment should not be disregarded or their future jeopardized because of their legal status,” said Calderon.

On the GOP side, Senate Leader Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga argued that AB 130 will give students false hope because they may still not be able to find work because of their illegal status.

‘Hijacking history class … to teach history’


California Dream Act: http://www.californiadreamact.org/

Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-legislature-20110715,0,4055327,full.story

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