Saturday, July 16, 2011

California First State To Require School Books Include "Gay History"

ov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Thursday making California the first state to require that school textbooks and history lessons include the contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.

Brown took the action as lawmakers sent him scores of bills, including one that would allow undocumented immigrants access to privately financed student aid at state universities and colleges.

Before adjourning for a monthlong summer recess, the Legislature also proposed changing the way California holds presidential primary elections and awards its electoral votes.

In accepting a mandate that California students be taught the accomplishments of gays and lesbians, Brown said that "history should be honest." The bill, he said in a statement, "revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books.''

The measure had sparked hot debate in the Legislature, where Republicans argued that it would force a "gay agenda" on young people against many of their parents' wishes. State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said the new law, which he wrote, will reduce the bullying of gay students by showing role models in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.

"Denying LGBT people their rightful place in history gives our young people an inaccurate and incomplete view of the world around them," said Leno, whose bill, SB 48, also covers the role of the disabled in history.

The governor's action drew criticism from conservative groups.

Benjamin Lopez of the Anaheim-based Traditional Values Coalition said schools should be focused on improving students' reading, writing, math and other skills.

"It's a sad day for the state of California," said Lopez, a legislative analyst and advocate for the organization. "We have failed at our core educatio mission, and yet we are now going to inject gay studies into the classrooms. It's absurd and offensive."

Controversy also surrounds the proposal to give undocumented immigrants a shot at privately funded financial aid in the California State University, California Community Colleges and University of California systems.

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