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Tuesday, the California State Assembly passed a bill that would require schools to fairly and accurately portray the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights movement and the historic contributions of the diverse LGBT community in social science instruction. The leadership of Equality Action NOW, a local grassroots civil rights organization is celebrating the 49 – 25 vote.
In an announcement, Tina Reynolds, co-founder of Equality Action NOW said, “When children are taught about the history of our involvement in humanity and how our achievements matter, we will all have better children. Thank you Senator Leno!”
The Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act (SB 48), authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California and Gay-Straight Alliance Network would also add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s existing anti-discrimination protections that prohibit bias in school activities, instruction and instructional materials.
“There are studies that have shown that inclusion of LGBT people in instructional materials is linked to lower rates of bullying,” said Benancio Garza, EAN’s Youth Spokesperson, “that along with strong anti-bullying laws should help kids like Lawrence King who was killed for being gay, have a better view of himself and others respect him for who he was.”
According to EQCA’s web site, “The FAIR Education Act will bring classroom instruction into alignment with existing non-discrimination laws in California and would add the LGBT community to the existing underrepresented cultural and ethnic groups, which are covered by current law related t inclusion in textbooks and other instructional materials in schools."
EAN Education Lead, teacher, and author of the first school workbook about Harvey Milk, Angela F. Luna exclaimed, “"This legislation sends the critical message that equity and accuracy are essential components of excellence in public education and the LGBT perspective in history and the social sciences is equal to that of any other group. This legislation will literally save lives as it validates LGBT youth as well as LGBT educators across California."
“We are selectively censoring history when we exclude LGBT Americans, or any other group of people, from our textbooks and instructional materials,” said Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). “We can’t tell our youth that it’s OK to be yourself and expect them to treat their peers with dignity and respect when we deliberately deny them accurate information about the historical contributions of Americans who happened to be LGBT.”
The bill now heads to the Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.