California Bill Would Require Schools Teach LGBT History

With Governor Jerry Brown now in office, Democratics in California have introduced a bill, SB 48, that would require the state's public schools to teach its students about LGBT history.

 CaThe Los Angeles Times reports:

"The proposal would require that social science texts and other instruction include 'a study of the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans … to the economic, political and social development of California and the United States of America, with particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society.'"

"Each school district would decide which age groups received such instruction. Gay rights activists say the legislation is overdue and would extend recognition long provided in textbooks and classrooms to historical figures who are African American, Latino and Asian American. Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) who introduced the bill, SB 48, said it addresses a glaring oversight in educating young people that has led to harassment of gays by their classmates."

In the past, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had opposed such a bill though Brown himself has yet to publicly state where he stands on the issue.

If implemented, SB 48 could have far-reaching effects well beyond the state. According to the Times: "The state is a major purchaser of educational texts, and publishers often produce books tailored to California that other states use as well."

A rally in support of the bill will take place tomorrow at the Capital.

Naturally, wingnuts opposed to the blll have branded it "the worst school sexual indoctrination ever" and "sexual brainwashing." They've already begun an anti-SB 48 campaign wherein they attempt to "scare" fellow bigots into thinking the bill "normalizes homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism." Imagine that.


  1. Jordan says

    Don’t count on it, Matt26. This bill was defeated by Schwarzenegger previously, and the fundies get CRAZY about it. They’re already mobilizing an army to oppose it here. This is definitely one of those things that gets the right-wing just insane about LGBT people. That said, I can’t think of a better way to invest in the future of our youth and destroy homophobia forever than to show them that LGBT people have been a critical part of world history.

  2. castaway says

    People shouldn’t be afraid of history, reality, or just plain information. It’s what you do with it that’s important.

    And how can one segment of society decide to whitewash another segment, then impose their brand of whitewashing on everyone else?

    I know from my own family that religious people tend to live in a bubble –a pre-approved, family-safe, unrealistic bubble. The minute that the kids leave the nest, they’re clueless in many aspects of the real world and end up learning the realities the hard way. Then they are left with a diminished view of their parents cause they were afraid to talk about things with their kids. At least let them learn about real life in school.

    Probably there should be a course on “wingnuttery” so the kids understand that also.

  3. says

    If you live in California call the Governor’s hotline at 1-916-445-2841 to encourage him to support SB 48.
    Also call your state senator and State Assemblymember for his or her support of SB 48. But if you are unfortunately Represented by a Republican, they will likely oppose it, but still call.

    We need to mobilize.

  4. says

    This is a very necessary education initiative, but I have two reservations:

    1) How’s it going to be paid for, with so few funds available for education in general?

    2) Are students going to be taught “Queer Studies”, which characaterizes LGBT identity as deviant and exotic, and which encourages Straight people to think and speak of us as “queers”, “dykes”, “trannies”, etc? I would not be in favor of that.

  5. Steve says

    @Stuffed Animal

    How do you come to the conclusion that queer studies encourage that kind of thinking?
    They originated from gender studies and cover everything from social to ciltural facets of non-heteronormative orientation, literarure, art, film and so on.

  6. brian says

    While I think it’s great that the historical contributions of gay people should not be ignored, I’m slightly put off by this transgender notion. Why are we including transgenders within the gay rights notion? Transgenders generally do not want to be thought of as gay. A gay man who alters his sexual organ to make it appear female is running away from the fact that he’s gay.

    Also, you cannot change your gender. Your gender is encoded within your chromosomes. You’re either XY or XX. Nothing you do externally changes that fact.

  7. Mathew says


    NO! It’s bad enough being gay and living in Texas now, but if Texas were to secede, their laws against gays would practically resemble those of the Middle East.

  8. Shawn says

    Great progressive idea but isn’t the education system already failing on the basics? Transgendered is included because usually the ignorant hate comes from the same place as it does for gays. Of course there are exceptions to the rule as demonstrated here.

  9. Abel says

    This is really not a good idea. Yes, GLBT history should be acknowledged and taught, but at this point in our history, this kind of law is going to raise more anti-gay feeling that we don’t need. It’s one thing to get rights for ourselves, but when we start trying to influence their children (and that’s how they’ll see it) we are playing into their hands.

  10. Hadenoughbs says

    I’d love to see a battle of the public school social sciences textbooks between California and Texas. The virulently homophobic Teahadists — under our secession-leaning GOPer Governor — totally control what gets printed here in Texas’ textbooks. This would be a creationism vs. intellectualism fight worth witnessing.

  11. Gregoire says

    Schools should teach history. Gay people are part of history, thus it should be part of that. It does depend on the individual teacher to make sure they are delivering a balanced education.

  12. TommyOC says

    This gay Californian OPPOSES this bill.


    1) This falls right into the trap when the Prop-8 supporters suggested in their fear campaign. “They want to expand their reach and formally teach your kids about homosexuality in schools.” I remember our side say “no way…” and yet that same side is now cheering this bill.

    2) DOMA, DADT, and ENDA should remain our priorities and we should discourage any initiative that isn’t urgently needed if it takes away from that focus or gives the fundies ammunition to water down otherwise valid debates.

    3) This sort of education does nothing to stop school bullying. African-Americans still get harassed and discriminated against decades after “Black History Month” went into effect. What is a few paragraphs in a high school textbook really going to do for us?

    4) If you want to not be considered a “special interest” group, stop acting like one.


    If anything, just pass a law requiring that history texts at 7-12 grade levels include mandatory chapters around discrimination. We’ll get a casual mention – for now – but we have to trust that the next generation can draw the connection between past behaviors and current trends.

  13. Fox says

    I have to totally agree with the thoughts submitted by ABEL and TOMMYOC.

    If you lived in California during the Prop 8 campaign, so many of the anti-equality ads were built around the, ”Next they’ll want to teach it in our schools” propaganda.

    Our progress is slow, but it also has to be strategic. I seriously question the timing. If it passes, I can see it being used against equality campaigns in other states.

  14. says

    Not for nothing, but while this is a very high-minded bill, I think we need to focus on the basics first. Our schools are STILL turning out students who cannot do long division, or write without murdering the English language. I’m all for educating our youth about the LGBT community and the realities of sexual orientation, but this will not make a whit of difference in their lives if they cannot comprehend the material. Priorities, priorities…

  15. Dana says

    Gov brown supports us….. Word of caution, anyone who lived in ca during the prop 8 fight knows that public schooleducation plays into the hands of those who hate us… If this becomes law it will be used against us whenprop 8 getsput back on the ballot

  16. Michael says

    I live in Southern California, and I agree that this is going to set us back. We have too many balloons up in the air as it is. The last thing we need is to give them the ammunition that they need to set us back.

    Mr. Leno is from San Francisco, and it is a completely different world up there. I lived there for 5yrs., and as liberal as I am, there is such a thing as being too liberal. This is not the right time for this.

  17. CARIBTONY says

    I too agree with ABEL – this is not the right time for this and feeds in to the thinking that we are trying to brainwash the kids.

    As someone else on this posting said we should just focus on discrimination and the negative effects on various minorities in today’s societies…

Leave A Reply