California one step closer to implementing LGBT history curriculum

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LGBT history lessons are closer to becoming a reality in California school curriculums.

After years of delay, California education officials are making steps to comply with a state law requiring public schools to include prominent LGBT people and rights milestones in history classes.

The legislation, known as SB48, is the first of its kind in the US and faced an immense amount of backlash when it was passed in 2011.

After two failed attempts by opponents to overturn the law and budget cuts that put drafting recommendations and textbook purchases on hold, the state board of education will finally review a new curriculum outline that incorporates LGBT history throughout grade levels.


The proposed curriculum begins with an introduction to LGBT issues in second grade through discussions of diverse families and continues in fourth grade with lessons on California’s role in the gay rights movement.

In fifth and eighth grade, students would learn about gender roles in the 18th and 19th centuries as well as the individuals that rebelled against them.

The education would culminate in high school US government courses where seniors would learn about the supreme court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage and recent court cases involving bathroom access for trans people.

Scholars affiliated with the American Historical Association had offered detailed recommendations for the document, most of which were adopted.

“One of the really important things about this new framework is it’s a 21st-century framework,” Don Romesburg, chairman of the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Sonoma State University said.

“It really recognizes that whatever your political view or opinion of LGBT rights, LGBT history is a part of American history.”

The advisory commission that produced the recommendations received thousands of comments voicing support, opposition and requests for changes – though only a few dealt directly with the LGBT history additions.

Three teachers expressed concern that other important groups were neglected.

“There is no mention of Manifest Destiny or Native Americans,” Brianna Leemkuil, a high school history teacher said of an 11-grade unit. “You want us to talk about a tiny LGBT community and ignore the killing of an entire people group?”

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