LGBT History Lessons Approved For California Classrooms

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California public schools will now teach LGBT history starting in second grade

Five years ago Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that would require public schools in California to teach students about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. Yesterday, The State Board of Education unanimously approved changes in classroom instruction to comply with that law.

According to CBS News, California public school students will now learn about families with two moms or two dads during their second grade year. In fourth grade, they will learn about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to public office in California when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Cupertino High School rising senior Allyson Chiu says the changes will make LGBT students “more comfortable”. “My classmates can solve quadratic equations or cite the elements on the periodic table. They can’t tell you who Harvey Milk was or the significance of the Stonewall Riots.” Chiu was among seven students who spoke in favor of adding LGBT history to the state’s curriculum.

The additions to what needs to be taught to K-8 students are the result of legislation passed five years ago that added LGBT Americans and people with disabilities to the list of groups schools need to include in their curriculum as well as history textbooks.

Of course, there are opponents arguing that it’s a parent’s prerogative when to talk about sexual orientation with their children, but efforts to repeal the law were unsuccessful.

Aside from learning about diverse families in second grade and California’s place in the gay right’s movement in fourth grade, fifth and eighth grade history lessons will touch on gender roles and historical figures who didn’t conform to them. The lessons will continue throughout high school as well.

Detractors claim the inclusion of LGBT history will mean not including other non-LGBT historical figures. Matthew McReynolds, a figure in the movement to repeal the laws, claims something even more outlandish. “Certainly some families will be concerned about their second-graders learning about two-mom families, but I think parents would be much more alarmed if they knew that LGBT History Month, in the last few years, has promoted the notion that ‘America the Beautiful’ is a source of lesbian pride.”

He’s referring to the fact that Wellesley College professor Katharine Lee Bates, who wrote the song in 1893, lived with a woman for 25 years who worked at the school as well. Historians speculate the relationship may have been romantic in nature and therefore, lunatics conclude that ‘America the Beautiful’ is now tainted.

Give me a freaking break.

This is hate, pure and simple. Hate, fear, discrimination and a healthy dose of ignorance. Teaching kids about LGBT history will in no way take away from the rest of what they learn about our country. It’s about time children started learning about Americans who made a difference and also, happened to be gay. As supporter of the curriculum changes Don Romesburg, chairman of women’s studies at Sonoma State University says, “You cannot understand where we are now collectively as Americans without understanding something of the LGBT past.”

Learning about one won’t negate the other. It’s about time our country recognized that.

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