CA bill would add LGBT people and people with disabilities to social studies syllabi

Yesterday, the California state senate passed a bill that would require public schools to add LGBT people and people with disabilities to the list of groups whose contributions to American society are recognized in social studies curricula.

The New York Times reports that,

… starting in the 2013-14 school year, [the bill] would prohibit districts and the California Board of Education from using textbooks or other instructional materials that reflect adversely on gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
If the bill becomes law, California would be the first state to require the teaching of LGBT history.

Democratic Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco, a supporter of the bill, said that the change to curricula could change the culture in schools to make homophobic bullying less acceptable. “We are second-class citizens and children are listening. When they see their teachers don’t step up to the plate when their classmate is being harassed literally to death, they are listening and they get the message that there is something wrong with those people.”

To the surprise of absolutely no one, this has upset a lot of people. Those who oppose the bill are making a “think of the parents!” case, saying that “”such instruction would expose students to a subject that some parents find objectionable.” As New York Magazine notes, this “frankly sounds like precisely why the bill should be signed into law: So we don’t raise a generation of ignorant jerks.”

Republican Senator Doug la Malfa opposed the bill for a different reason: “I’m deeply troubled kids would have to contemplate at a very, very early age, when many of us are teaching abstinence … what is sexuality,” he said. Which just goes to show you that abstinence education isn’t just about teaching kids to abstain from expressing their sexuality – it’s about keeping them ignorant by not teaching them “what is sexuality” at all.

The bill now heads to the state assembly, then hopefully on to Governor Jerry Brown for signature.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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