California Assembly approves landmark bill that would require teaching of LGBT history


The California state Assembly on Tuesday approved landmark legislation that would require the teaching of LGBT history in public schools.

The bill, SB 48, would require classroom text books and other instructional materials used in public schools to include the historical contributions of gays, lesbians and transgender Americans.

The Democratic-controlled Assembly passed the measure on a mostly 49-25 party-line vote — only one Republican voted in favor of the bill.

“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 Assembly Speaker John Perez, the first openly gay speaker of the California Assembly.

The bill — also known as the “Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Education Act” — is a revival of similar efforts launched five years ago when state lawmakers approved a similar measure, only to have it vetoed by then Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

California state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), the bill’s author, 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.

“Most textbooks don’t include any information about LGBT historical figures or the LGBT civil rights movement, which has great significance to both California and U.S. history,” Leno said in a statement back in April, when the bill passed in the Senate by a vote of 23-14.

California law already requires schools to teach about women, African Americans, Mexican Americans, entrepreneurs, Asian Americans, European Americans, American Indians and labor.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a Republican from Twin Peaks, said he was offended as a Christian that the bill was being used to promote a “homosexual agenda” in public schools.

The bill now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, who has not yet taken a public position on the measure.

If signed into law, SB 48 could have impact beyond California’s borders. Since the state is a major purchaser of educational textbooks, national book publishers often print books tailored for California curriculum that other states utilize.

Brown has 12 days to sign the bill or veto it.

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