California Textbooks to Acknowledge Existence of Gay People

Filed under: In The News, Education: Teens


Law requires textbooks to recognize contributions of gay Americans. Credit: Getty Images

Imagine a history of the FBI not mention J. Edgar Hoover because he was reportedly, well, ya know, homosexual.

So was Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, Sir Francis Bacon and a lot of other historical figures. Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein, Cole Porter and others were a lot more than "reportedly" ya know.

Now California textbooks can legally recognize the existence of Cole Porter and Walt Whitman. The California Assembly passed a bill to add the historical contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans to the state's public school textbooks.

USA Today reports this makes California the only state to require including LGBT people in textbooks.

The bills adds LGBT Americans as well as people with disabilities to a list of groups (such as African American, Asian Americans and Native Americans) who debunk the theory that John Wayne and Chuck Norris built the country on their own.

Speaking of white heterosexual action heroes, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill in 2006. A spokesman for current Gov. Jerry Brown tells USA Today the governor has no comment on what action he will take on the bill.

State Sen. Mark Leno, the San Francisco Democrat who introduced the bill, tells USA Today excluding LGBT Americans or other groups from textbooks amounts to "selectively censoring history."

The paper reports many people supported the bill as a way provide role models for LGBT students who are bullied for the sexual orientation.

Opponents says legislators ought to stay out of the classroom. "I don't think this helps the teaching of history," Chris Norby, a Republican assemblyman from Orange County, tells USA Today. "I think it's a distraction."

There's no reason to get too worked up either way. USA Today reports state textbooks will not be updated until 2015 -- if then -- because of budget cuts.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.