California Wants to Require LGBT History in the Classroom

Adding to laws requiring schools to teach historical contributions of women and various racial and ethnic groups, California’s state assembly passed a bill this week that would make lessons on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people mandatory in public schools. If California’s governor does not veto the bill, the state will become the first in the US to require LGBT curriculum in social studies classrooms. At least one state, Tennessee, has proposed the opposite: banning the teaching of homosexuality before high school.

The California bill, which also includes a mandate to discuss historically significant people with disabilities, prohibits teaching anything that reflects adversely on gays. Supporters hope including positive gay contributions to history in textbooks and lesson plans will help decrease bullying of gay students and present all kids with a more accurate version of America’s past. Those covered in the classroom may include people like George Washington’s crucial military adviser Friedrich von Steuben, who fled the country when he was outed as gay.

While some opponents call the bill well-intentioned but ill-conceived, others have gone as far as accusing it of promoting a “homosexual agenda.” Republican lawmaker Tim Donnelly said, “I think it’s one thing to say that we should be tolerant. It is something else altogether to say that my children are going to be taught that this lifestyle is good.”

Do you think requiring public schools to touch on the contributions of gays and lesbians will decrease bullying and improve eduction? Or do you believe teachers and administrators should decide their own curriculum, even if that means some people get left out?