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In a landmark move by the California legislature, a bill passed the Assembly that requires the state to include the contributions of the LGBT community in the public school’s social studies curriculum. Specifically, SB 48 would amend the education code to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as well as people with disabilities to the list of people that the public schools must include in the state’s curriculum. The bill also prohibits materials that reflect adversely on the LGBT community.

Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced the legislation and believes that SB 48 is crucial because of the now widely-reported bullying of gay students. The bill passed the Assembly along party line vote of 49 to 25 and has been sent to Governor Brown’s desk. If signed into law, California would be the first state in the nation to have such a requirement.

Assembly Speaker John Perez, the first openly gay speaker of the California Assembly, was quoted in the Associated Press, stating that:

     “This bill will require California schools to present a more accurate and nuanced view of American history in our social science curriculum by recognizing the accomplishments of groups that are not often recognized.”

The bill’s original author, Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) agrees.

     “Bottom line, it’s only beneficial to share with students the broad diversity of the human experience and that our democracy protects everyone.”

The bill passed the California Senate by a vote of 23-14 on April 14.  The legislation leaves it to local school boards to decide how to implement the requirement. It does not specify a grade level for the instruction to begin.

Not everyone is exactly thrilled by the legislation. Assemblymember Tim Donnelly (R- Twin Peaks) said that he was:

     “Offended as a Christian that the bill was being used to promote a ‘homosexual agenda’ in public schools,” adding that “Our founding fathers are turning over in their graves.”

Governor Brown has not said if he would sign the bill. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill in 2006.

About the Author

Adrienne Verrilli
Adrienne Verrilli

Adrienne is a communications veteran and public policy expert who has worked in the non-profit community for the past twelve years. She works on a wide range of issues including women's health and rights, healthcare, affordable housing and community redevelopment, arts and education, improving the health of the oceans, and other environmental issues. She has also worked to improve access to the healthcare system for low-income people and people with special medical needs. In addition, Adrienne deals with teen pregnancy, STD and HIV prevention, as well as family planning and abortion rights. A former banker, she left a ten-year career in the financial industry to work with the progressive non-profit community. Adrienne is a Democrat who supports evidence-based policies that help to improve the lives of all people. She currently resides in San Francisco. The views of Adrienne's articles are her own and do not reflect the views or positions of Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific.

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