Activists hope to force teaching of gay history

A bill introduced in the California Legislature by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would require that LGBT people be fairly and accurately included in school teaching material.

The measure is sponsored by Equality California and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network.

The bill also prohibits the State Board of Education from using instructional material that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

EQCA said that if enacted, the law "would add LGBT to the existing list of underrepresented cultural and ethnic groups (that) are covered by current law related to inclusion in textbooks and other instructional materials in schools."

"LGBT people should not be pushed into the closet when it comes to what students learn about history," said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. "Educating youth about the contributions of LGBT Californians and our state's rich diversity will help foster true acceptance of LGBT students and will ultimately create a safe school environment for all students."

GSA Network Executive Director Carolyn Laub added, "LGBT youth are denied a fair education when they are exposed to harmful stereotypes in classroom materials and are excluded from learning about their history."

Leno said that "most textbooks don't include any historical information about the LGBT movement."

"Our collective silence on this issue perpetuates negative stereotypes of LGBT people and leads to increased bullying of young people," he said. "We can't simultaneously tell youth that it's OK to be yourself and live an honest, open life when we aren't even teaching students about historical LGBT figures or the LGBT equal rights movement."

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