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California May Require Gay History Education

The state Senate just passed a bill that would require schools to teach gay history starting in 2013.

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The California Senate passed a bill that would require all state public schools to teach the history of the gay civil rights movement and the contributions of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

The bill passed the Democratic-majority Senate by a 23-14 vote, along party lines. Mario Guerrero, government affairs director at Equality California, an LGBT lobbying organization, said his organization expect the bill to move to the state Assembly sometime in June, where it will likely pass. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the Assembly, 52-27.

A similar measure in 2006 was passed by the legislature, but vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The state currently has laws on the books that require the teaching of women's, black, American Indian, Mexican, Asian, and Pacific Islander history with regard to the social, political, and economic development of the state.

Guerrero says the bill is about teaching students an accurate version of history, not about advancing an agenda.

"When folks say 'gay history,' I think there's people who think we want to force ourselves on the broader community," he says. "You have a whole civil rights movement that is fact—it's happening now. By omitting this information, we're essentially not providing accurate, fair, or inclusive history."

Officials at Equality California believe the bill will help keep young members of the LGBT community from being bullied.

"Educating youth about the contributions of LGBT Californians and our state's rich diversity will help foster true acceptance of LGBT students and will ultimately create a safe school environment for all students," Geoff Kors, former executive director of the organization, said in a statement.

The bill would also prohibit schools from endorsing an event that discriminates, and prohibit the adoption of discriminatory instructional materials.

California has a money-saving measure in place that prevents the adoption of any new curricula until the 2013-2014 school year, so that's the earliest the law could go into effect if passed.

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