Published: Fresh U. July 17, 2016. Viewable here.
The California State Board of Education has unanimously approved changes to public school curriculum and adopted the first mandate in the nation which would require instruction in public schools about LGBT+ history and milestones as well as LGBT+ Americans who made history.
The implementation of the new curriculum will satisfy legislation passed in California in 2012 that LGBT+ Americans and Americans with disabilities be added to Kindergarten through eighth grade textbooks. This legislation, SB 48, also states that “sexual orientation and religion … shall not be reflected adversely in adopted instructional materials.”
Allyson Chiu, a senior at Cupertino High School spoke to the board before their decision as a member of the side in favor of implementing the new changes.
“My classmates can solve quadratic equations or cite the elements on the periodic table,” Chiu said. “They can’t tell you who Harvey Milk was or the significance of the Stonewall Riots.”
According to the Daily Mail, the curriculum approved by the Board of Education has mapped out specific changes to curriculum by grade level – differing family structures, such as having two mothers or two fathers, would be discussed in second grade, in fourth there would be discussion about California and the gay rights movement and teachings on gender roles through history would be touched on from fifth grade through high school.
Although two unsuccessful attempts were made to repeal the law by Conservative groups who argued that discussions on the LGBT+ community and historical members ought to come from and be decided on by parents, many view the approved changes as a milestone.
“You cannot understand where we are now collectively as Americans without understanding something of the LGBT past,” said Don Romesburg, chairman of the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Sonoma State University in his speech urging the board to make the affirmative decision they eventually decided upon.
United States history teacher Miguel Covarrubias told The L.A. Times about the impact of teaching on the subject matter.
“Some (students) are initially uncomfortable,” Covarrubias told The Times. “It makes a huge difference to know how they are part of the evolving American story.”