Carolyn Laub, a consultant for a group for LGBT parents called Our Family Coalition, said that while some school districts and individual teachers made their own efforts to incorporate gay history since the law passed, many were nervous about tackling the topic without explicit guidance from the state.
“Many, many educators are waiting for this framework to know, ‘This is the content I’m supposed to be including,'” Laub said. “If educators perceive, rightly or wrongly, they may not get support from their administration if they face pushback from a parent who says, ‘I don’t want you talking to my kid about that,’ they are reluctant to do a whole lot of inclusion.”
Gay rights groups had complained that an initial draft of the outline issued in 2014 did only a cursory job of highlighting important LGBT figures and events. Twenty scholars affiliated with the American Historical Association offered detailed recommendations for beefing up the document, most of which were adopted, said Don Romesburg, chairman of the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Sonoma State University.
“One of the really important things about this new framework is it’s a 21st century framework,” Romesburg said. “It really recognizes that whatever your political view or opinion of LGBT rights, LGBT history is a part of American history, and you cannot understand where we are now collectively as Americans without understanding something of the LGBT past.”
The additions dealing with LGBT history are part of an overall revision of the state’s history and social studies framework, which identifies the historical concepts California students should be exposed to each year. The guidelines were last updated more than a decade ago.
An advisory commission that produced the recommendations the state school board will consider Thursday received thousands of written comments voicing support, expressing opposition or requesting simple changes, but only a small handful dealt with the gay history additions. Three teachers expressed concern that other important groups were neglected.
“There is no mention of Manifest Destiny or Native Americans,” Brianna Leemkuil, a U.S. history teacher at Yucaipa High School in San Bernardino County, said of one 11 grade unit. “You want us to talk about a tiny LGBT community and ignore the killing of an entire people group?”
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