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Thursday, April 14, 2011

LGBT Contributions Could Soon Be Read in Textbooks

Posted By on Thu, Apr 14, 2011 at 4:02 PM

click to enlarge Making Milk proud
  • Making Milk proud

Students, please open your textbooks to the chapter on Harvey Milk and cue the PowerPoint on Heklina: A bill by state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) to include gay history in mandatory education requirements passed the state Senate today.

And if the Assembly signs off on the bill, it too could eventually be found in local history books.

Leno's legislation says that schools should no longer skip over pertinent LGBT history. As it stands, California schools are not allowed to discriminate against ethnic and minority groups, but the general curriculum doesn't require gay and lesbian contributions or historical events.

Locally, the San Francisco Unified School District is predictably more inclusive, working LGBT history and antibullying exercises into its curriculum starting in elementary school. Still, as we wrote in our November cover story, "Wounded Pride," an incredibly high percentage of public school students say they hear gay slurs in the classroom.

Leno introduced his bill in December to incorporate LGBT into the curriculum and to combat bullying. Research suggests that a school that promotes an LGBT-friendly curriculum tends to be a safer environment for gay and transgender students.

"Most textbooks don't include any information about LGBT historical figures or the LGBT civil rights movement, which has great significance for both California and U.S. history," Leno said in a statement. "This selective censorship sends the wrong message to all young people."

If Leno's bill passes, then educational workbooks like Angela Luna's could soon find their way into the classroom. Luna, a fourth-grade teacher in Sacramento, recently published In Celebration of Harvey Milk, an educational workbook that uses exercises to teach kids about LGBT social studies.

Luna says it's the first of its kind, and "eventually, it could be very much a part of the school curriculum. It's an exciting time -- these seeds are being planted, and 20 years from now it will be common."

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Lauren Smiley


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