Historic new class guidelines have been approved for California, and will mean that students in Californian classrooms will be learning about LGBT history and prominent gay Americans.
It will begin in second grade, where students will learn about families with two mums or dads. Two years later, while studying how immigrants helped shape the Golden State, they will learn about how New York native Harvey Milk became a gay pioneering politician.
Happily, these changes were approved unanimously by the state board of education. These changes are only one part of more broad changes coming to both science and history.
Allyson Chiu, who just finished 11th grade at Cupertino high school, said that these changes will help make LGBT students more comfortable. She, along with seven other students, spoke in favour of these new guidelines.
She said: “My classmates can solve quadratic equations or cite the elements on the periodic table. They can’t tell you who Harvey Milk was or the significance of the Stonewall riot.”
These changes will bring education in line with legislation passed five years ago that added LGBT Americans and disabled people to the list of social and ethnic groups whose contributions schools are supposed to teach and have in K-8 schoolbooks.
Don Romesburg, chairman of women’s studies at Sonoma State University, had this to say: “You cannot understand where we are now collectively as Americans without understanding something of the LGBT past.”
There are opponents, of course. Conservative opponents tried unsuccessfully to repeal the law, and still remain critical of the changes today.
Matthew McReynolds, who was involved in the repeal efforts, said this: “Certainly some families will be concerned about their second-graders learning about two-mom families, but I think parents would be much more alarmed if they knew that LGBT History Month, in the last few years, has promoted the notion that ‘America the Beautiful’ is a source of lesbian pride.”
I think we can all agree, though, that including prominent LGBT figures is essential to any history class, in America and elsewhere.