LGBT groups irked about text­books

Ripon Bulletin - - Local/state -

SACRA­MENTO (AP) — Gay rights groups told a Cal­i­for­nia state com­mis­sion Wed­nes­day that they ob­ject to sev­eral of the text­books that could be rec­om­mended for use in schools, say­ing the books don’t in­clude enough in­for­ma­tion about the con­tri­bu­tions of LGBT Amer­i­cans.

The state Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion is pre­par­ing to up­date text­book rec­om­men­da­tions for the first time since Cal­i­for­nia be­came the first state to re­quire teach­ing about the con­tri­bu­tions of les­bian, gay, bisexual and trans­gen­der peo­ple.

A coali­tion of LGBT rights groups said the books should not merely in­clude a to­ken ref­er­ence to San Fran­cisco civil rights icon Har­vey Milk but in­te­grate the con­tri­bu­tions of gay, les­bian, bisexual and trans­gen­der peo­ple through­out his­tory. They also said the books should point out when his­tor­i­cal or cul­tural fig­ures had same­sex part­ners, like as­tro­naut Sally Ride, Jane Ad­dams, who is con­sid­ered the mother of so­cial work, en­ter­tainer Ellen DeGeneres or ten­nis cham­pion Bil­lie Jean King.

“It’s not some­thing to ap­pease a par­tic­u­lar part of the pop­u­la­tion but to truly in­clude in­clu­sive his­tory through­out grades K-8,” said Re­nata Mor­eira, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Our Fam­ily Coali­tion, an LGBT ad­vo­cacy group in the San Fran­cisco Bay area.

Bet­ter rep­re­sent­ing di­verse Amer­i­cans in school lessons re­duces dis­crim­i­na­tion, im­proves stu­dents’ self­es­teem and makes them less likely to drop out, Mor­eira told The As­so­ci­ated Press.

A state com­mis­sion is weigh­ing which of 12 his­tory and so­cial science text­books to rec­om­mend for pupils in kin­der­garten through eighth grade.

The coali­tion wants two of the books to be re­jected and a third be turned back un­less the pub­lisher agrees to make sub­stan­tial changes. Seven oth­ers were rec­om­mended for ap­proval with mi­nor changes while two were deemed ad­e­quate in their cur­rent form.

To re­ceive the state’s rec­om­men­da­tion, the books are sup­posed to com­ply with a frame­work that requires teach­ing about LGBT peo­ple and events and to por­tray di­verse Amer­i­cans. With more than 6 mil­lion chil­dren in pub­lic schools, Cal­i­for­nia is the na­tion’s largest mar­ket for text­book mak­ers. LGBT groups hope the state’s rec­om­men­da­tions will be car­ried through to text­books sold in other states as well.

“It was def­i­nitely clear that it was new to a lot of folks, that this was some­thing a lot of ex­perts were go­ing to need to help nav­i­gate,” Jo Michael, leg­isla­tive man­ager for Equal­ity Cal­i­for­nia, a gay rights group, said in an in­ter­view. “A lot of the pub­lish­ers were en­gaged in the process, will­ing to lis­ten.”

Cal­i­for­nia’s de­ci­sion to re­quire teach­ing about the con­tri­bu­tions of gays and les­bians sparked con­tentious de­bate in 2011, in­clud­ing an un­suc­cess­ful at­tempt to re­fer the man­date to vot­ers.

The rec­om­men­da­tions by the In­struc­tional Qual­ity Com­mis­sion must be rat­i­fied by the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, likely in Novem­ber, cap­ping years of work to up­date Cal­i­for­nia’s in­struc­tional ma­te­ri­als, which stalled due to bud­get cuts dur­ing the Great Re­ces­sion. School dis­tricts are not re­quired to se­lect from the rec­om­mended text­books, but their in­struc­tional ma­te­ri­als must com­ply with the Leg­is­la­ture’s re­quire­ments for in­clu­sive de­pic­tions of gay Amer­i­cans.

Be­fore the LGBT man­date was added, Cal­i­for­nia law re­quired schools to teach about women, African Amer­i­cans, Mex­i­can Amer­i­cans, en­trepreneurs, Asian Amer­i­cans, Euro­pean Amer­i­cans, Amer­i­can In­di­ans and la­bor. The Leg­is­la­ture over the years also has pre­scribed spe­cific lessons about the Ir­ish potato famine and the Holo­caust, among other top­ics.

New text­books will also add lessons on fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy, voter ed­u­ca­tion, geno­cide and the con­tri­bu­tions of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

The state’s text­book rec­om­men­da­tions were last up­dated in 2005, said Bill Ainsworth, a spokesman for the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.