Teaching gay history in CA could have nat'l impact

July 6, 2011 7:32:26 PM PDT
A bill that would insure California text books include the history and accomplishments of gays and lesbians is now on the governor's desk. Gov. Jerry Brown's decision could have implications for students across the country.

Javier Pinedo was bullied at school for being gay. The recent high school graduate thinks it would have made a difference had he read about historical gay figures in school books.

Javier Pinedo/Bullied Teen: "It probably would have let me know that it doesn't have to be crappy for me, it doesn't have to be that I'm alone," Pinedo said.

Brown is weighing a bill that requires public schools to teach the history and accomplishments of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. His decision could be significant because California is the largest textbook buyer in the United States, representing almost 15 percent of the $3.5 billion market. Publishers typically try to sell California editions to other states.

Social conservatives are ramping up the pressure for Brown to veto the bill. They do not think gay figures belong in textbooks.

"To get into a history book or social science book, you have to do something important for everybody, you have to do a product or a service and you are judged on your contributions, not on what you did in the bedroom," SaveCalifornia.com President Randy Thomasson said.

But the proposal's author, state Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, calls it censorship when books ignore people like gay rights champion Harvey Milk or movements like same-sex marriage.

"We're denying our students a very important chapter in history, a chapter of civil rights," Leno said.

"If it'll make it safer for youth, I don't see why he wouldn't sign it," Pinedo said.

It is unclear what Brown will do. He has proven in the last couple weeks he does not always side with his party or constituents. If he does sign the bill, California is so broke, it cannot update textbooks until the 2015 school year.


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