senate committee approved a bill this week that would
require schools in the state to represent "sexual diversity"
in their curriculums and point out the historical
contributions of gays and lesbians. The bill, which
now advances to the full senate for a
vote, expands on existing state education code
requiring that ethnic and cultural diversity be
taught, and it may have national implications because
California often directs publishing trends as the country's
largest textbook buyer.
"We've been working since 1995 to try to improve
the climate in schools for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and
transgender kids as well as those kids who are just
thought to be gay, because there is an enormous amount
of harassment and discrimination at stake," the bill's
sponsor, Democratic state senator Sheila Kuehl, who is
lesbian, told Knight Ridder newspapers.
She added that research indicates that gay and
lesbian students might prosper academically if their
history is affirmed and be less susceptible to suicide
or drug and alcohol abuse. ''Teaching materials mostly
contain negative or adverse views of us, and that's
when they mention us at all,'' she said. ''In
textbooks it's as if [the lesson is] 'There's no gay
people in California at all, so forget about it.' "
If the bill passes both the
California senate and assembly, it will be up to
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to approve or veto it. Last fall
the legislature passed a marriage equality bill, but
the governor vetoed it. (The Advocate)