Legislators in California have passed a controversial bill that would add gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans to the list of the kind of notable figures that kids must learn about in school lessons. Included in the bill a ban on material that disparages gay people.
The bill was passed mostly along party lines, with Democrats saying it was crucial to promote a safe school atmosphere and help stop bullying of gay kids by providing examples of accomplished LGBT role models, and Republicans saying it was ill-conceived and will indoctrinate children to accept homosexuality.
SB48 is now in the hands of Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, who has not indicated either way what he will do. A similar bill was vetoed by former Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006.
One assemblyman, Tim Donnelly, said he was “offended as a Christian” by the bill because it would be used to promote a “homosexual agenda” in public schools, and that it teaches children that “this lifestyle is good.”
Senator Mark Leno, the bill’s author, argues that it’s simply “beneficial to share with students the broad diversity of the human experience and that our democracy protects everyone.”
By law, schools in California already teach kids about women, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans and American Indians. SB48 would also require the inclusion of disabled people.
If passed, the bill would go into effect as soon as the 2013-2014 school year. Individual school boards would be left on their own to decide how to implement the requirement, and in what grade the lessons should start being included.
The bill would make California the first state in the country to require the inclusion of LGBT people in school textbooks. Some conservative and religious groups have said it will force parents to remove their kids from public schools.
Do you think SB48 should be signed into law, or should the state stay out of school textbooks?