One Equal World

California Becomes First State to Teach LGBT Curriculum

Posted on: August 3, 2016

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

California is in the middle of a major overhaul of their history and social-science curriculum, mostly to address criticisms in the way previous coursework has represented minorities. At a major meeting with the State Board of Education on July 14th, speakers took the pulpit to talk about the need for better coverage of Muslims, Hindus, and Jews. A major minority was silent at that meeting, but they will be part of the reform.

For the first time, California educational standards will include schooling about LGBT history. In second grade, kids will be taught about diverse families. In fourth, they will begin learning about gay activisim alongside immigration and civil rights.

Not only new to California, this is the first US law requiring public schools to include LGBT milestones in their overviews of history.

These changes didn’t come out of nowhere. Five years ago, California lawmakers passed legislation that added both LGBT people and people with disabilities to the list of social and ethnic cultures that merit mention in textbooks and history lessons. The half-decade since has been spent slowly fighting opponents. Multiple attempts have been made in the state capital and the courtrooms and the budget books to overturn the law, but with Thursday’s decision, the law is now enacted.

The biggest benefit of the new law will be to bolster teachers who have always wanted to teach about the diversity that already exists in their own classrooms, but have been afraid of pushback from parents. Now, in the case that they do get that pushback, they have support not only from their own administration but also from state law.

Educators will have some extra work to do in keeping up with this one – laws for and against gay rights and protections are passing every month in states across the country, many of them landmark decisions with broad ramifications. The history that they are now to teach is still being written. But it will be worth it, as their students graduated prepared to take up the pen.

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