Following the state Senate's lead, the California Assembly Tuesday passed a bill that requires the contributions of gay people to be part
of public school curricula.
Sponsored by gay senator Mark Leno, the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act "ensures that the historical contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are accurately and fairly portrayed in instructional materials by adding LGBT people to the existing list of under-represented cultural and ethnic groups already included in the state’s inclusionary education requirements," according to Leno's office. The bill passed the Assembly by a vote of 49-25; it passed the Senate in April and will now head to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk. It's not clear where Brown stands on the bill, but he's generally supportive of gay rights and refused to defend Proposition 8 after the antigay initiative was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge.
Should the bill become law, it would be years before California students are learning about Harvey Milk and Elaine Noble. A statewide committee will draft a framework for the new curriculum and solicit public comment on it, and the State Board of Education and local school districts will make sure that textbooks include events like Stonewall and 1979's March on Washington.
"This bill is in response to the tragedy of bullying and the resulting suicides," Leno told The Advocate recently. "Do we provide or deny information to students so they better understand the broad diversity of the human experience?"