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California is the first state to teach LGBT history in schools

1 year ago by in ( BBON , News , Old/New , Schools , Uncategorized , Welcome to Brea , What's New! )
With a unanimous vote by the California State Board of Education in July, California public schools will now teach LGBT history. The State Board will implement a 2011 state law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown which requires schools to include LGBT history as early as second grade. This decision will make California the first state in the nation to teach LGBT history in school textbooks.

    According to Peter Tira, information officer for the California Department of Education, the policy will go into effect immediately across California elementary, middle, and high school history classes, in time for the 2016-2017 school year. Tira also adds that there is a 2017 deadline for school textbooks to include LGBT content.

      At BOHS, the Social Science Department has not developed new plans as of yet to implement the new curriculum, according to Matt Rainwater, department head. However, Rainwater, along with fellow history teacher, Brian Schlueter, already include LGBT history as part of their civil rights unit, as both believe inclusion of the LGBT community is essential to teaching American history. Regarding the deadline, Rainwater notes that a majority of current history textbooks at BOHS are “almost as old as the students who study them” as many date back to 2002.

        However, at lower schools, such inclusion is not as. According to Trish Walsh, Country Hills Elementary School principal, the school currently teaches the curriculum adopted by the BOUSD School Board of Education, but no plans have been made to adopt new social studies textbooks as of yet.

          “Our students will enter college classrooms and the workplace in the next few years and they’re going to come across people of many different backgrounds. To assume that a place of higher education or any workplace is purely a heterosexual workplace would be very wrong. We have not just people of different ethnic backgrounds, but people of different gender identities and sexualities amongst us. And to pretend that they don’t exist is not just doing a disservice to them but a disservice to them as global citizens,” Eugene Lee, history teacher, said.

            From second grade, students will learn about diverse family structures, such as families with LGBT parents, to help students “locate themselves and their own families in history and learn about the lives and historical struggles of their peers,” according to the text of the framework.

              The BOHS Gay-Straight Alliance Club president Alisa Fang, junior, believes this addition is a huge step for the LGBT community. “For California to implement LGBTQ history into school textbooks is...amazing, for lack of a better word. LGBT youth are more likely to suffer bullying in school, suffer from depression, and commit suicide. This is not okay. People are substituting something as innocent and pure as love with hate and intolerance. I hope that with the aid of LGBTQ history into schools, this vicious cycle can be broken. By including LGBTQ history in our history books, we are not only acknowledging the sacrifices made, but we are also changing the perspective of future generations to a more open-minded one (hopefully).”

                Tom Torlakson, California Superintendent of Public Instruction, believes that the inclusion of LGBT history is “a big win for our students.” “This document will improve the teaching and learning of history and social science. It will give our students access to the latest historical research and help them learn about the diversity of our state and the contributions of people and groups who may not have received the appropriate recognition in the past,” Torlakson said.

                  Critics of the state decision, such as the National Association of Scholars and Breitbart News, believe the ruling is “absurd” and “the height of political correctness”. But others applaud the move, noting that this furthers California’s history of progressivism.

                    “This is a small world, this is an ephemeral life, a temporary life we live,” Lee said. “And for us to exclude people based on their gender identity is not only wrong -- it’s going to push us behind. There are many [LGBT] people who serve in the military, who are in the entertainment industry, who are teachers, who are students, and they all deserve a voice. And I think California as a progressive state is doing an outstanding job leading the nation once again in what a progressive state looks like.”

                      Author: Anabel King

                        Anabel King is a student reporter for Beautiful Brea Old and New. You can contact this writer at anabelking7@gmail.com.
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