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Conservative group seeks voter referendum to overturn California’s LGBT history law

Monday, July 18, 2011
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A California-based conservative group on Friday filed documents seeking to place a voter referendum on the 2012 ballot to overturn a new state law that would require public schools to include the historical contributions of LGBT Americans in history lessons and classroom materials.

Paulo Sibaja


The proponent of the proposed referendum, Paulo Sibaja, filed a request for a title and summary with the attorney general’s office.

Sibaja said he acted on behalf of the Capitol Resource Institute, which had officially opposed the bill throughout the legislative process before Gov. Jerry Brown signed it Thursday. Sibaja is the legislative director of that organization.

The Capitol Resource Institute is a hard-line, socially conservative organization that has long opposed efforts in California to expand rights for the LGBT population. Backers eventually would have to collect 433,971 signatures to allow voters to decide whether to keep the law in place or reject it.

Sibaja said that a coalition has formed behind the proposed measure, though he would not name the other members. He said a news conference Wednesday would give more details.

The bill — known as the FAIR (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful) Education Act — 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.

In addition to including the role and contributions of LGBT Americans in educational materials, the bill also adds sexual orientation to the state’s existing anti-discrimination protections that prohibit bias in school activities, instruction and instructional materials.

State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who authored the legislation, called Sibaja’s group “extremist” and added, “I think it will be a challenge for them to get the signatures.”

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