California lawmaker proposes LGBT-inclusive textbooks to combat bullying

Mark Leno

Mark Leno

Mark Leno

California state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), introduced a bill Monday that would require public schools to include the historical contributions of LGBT people as a way to combat bullying.

The “Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Education Act” would require classroom text books to be re-written with historical details about the gay movement in America and California.

“Most textbooks don’t include any historical information about the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) movement, which has great significance to both California and U.S. history,” Leno said in a press release.

“Our collective silence on this issue perpetuates negative stereotypes of LGBT people and leads to increased bullying of young people.

“We can’t simultaneously tell youth that it’s OK to be yourself and live an honest, open life when we aren’t even teaching students about historical LGBT figures or the LGBT equal rights movement.”

Leno, who is openly gay, said the bill would would bring classroom instruction into alignment with existing non-discrimination laws in California and would add LGBT to the existing list of underrepresented cultural and ethnic groups, which are covered by current law related to inclusion in textbooks and other instructional materials.

The bill is similar to a proposal that was approved by the state legislature in 2006 but vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Given the number of young people who tragically took their own lives after being bullied for being LGBT — or perceived as being LGBT — it is imperative that we do more to ensure that all children feel fully welcomed, and this legislation is an important step toward that goal,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California.

About 20 senators and assembly members have agreed to co-author Leno’s legislation, including members of the LGBT legislative caucus. It will be heard in the state senate next year.

You may recall that in October, we reported on a group of teachers at a London secondary school who claimed they have almost eradicated anti-gay bullying in classrooms and playgrounds after they started teaching their students lessons on LGBT history.

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