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California to Buy Temecula Students Textbook Rejected Because of Harvey Milk

California to Buy Temecula Students Textbook Rejected Because of Harvey Milk

California Gov. Gavin Newsom
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In rejecting the social studies textbook, the Temecula school board president called Milk a pedophile.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state will buy students in Temecula a social studies textbook that the school board rejected because the accompanying teachers’ materials mentioned gay politician Harvey Milk and that California will fine the district.

Newsom tweeted his intentions Thursday, saying, “We’re going to purchase the book for these students—the same one that hundreds of thousands of kids are already using. If these extremist school board members won’t do their job, we will — and fine them for their incompetence.” Having the freedom to learn, he noted in a video with the tweet, is “the California way.”

“Cancel culture has gone too far in Temecula: Radicalized zealots on the school board rejected a textbook used by hundreds of thousands of students and now children will begin the school year without the tools they need to learn,” Newsom added in a press release. “If the school board won’t do its job by its next board meeting to ensure kids start the school year with basic materials, the state will deliver the book into the hands of children and their parents — and we’ll send the district the bill and fine them for violating state law.”

In May, the board for the Temecula Valley Unified School District in Southern California voted to reject a curriculum that included the elementary-school textbook Social Studies Alive! The book itself does not mention Milk, the first out gay public official elected in California, but the supplemental materials for teachers do. They are also available to students in upper grades.

At the time of the vote, the board president called Milk a sexual predator. “My question is, why even mention a pedophile?” Dr. Joseph Komrosky said.

But Milk was not a pedophile. Komrosky was apparently referring to a relationship between Milk and Jack McKinley, which began when Milk was in his early 30s and McKinley was 16. When the two met in New York, the age of consent in that state was 14, and McKinley had turned 18 when the pair moved to California. Komrosky later said he didn’t think any relationship between a 33-year-old and a 16-year-old was appropriate, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Newsom was quick to criticize Komrosky, tweeting at the time that the board president’s remark about Milk was “an offensive statement from an ignorant person,” and California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced an investigation of the district. California requires schools to teach LGBTQ-inclusive history.

The fight over inclusion led to the majority-conservative Temecula board firing Superintendent Jodi McClay in June.

Milk was elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors — its city council — in 1977 and assassinated along with Mayor George Moscone by Dan White, a disgruntled former supervisor, in 1978. He was a pioneering civil rights leader in many ways; for instance, he campaigned against a California ballot initiative that would have barred gay men and lesbians from teaching in the public schools, and it was ultimately defeated. His story has been told in books, onstage, and in films.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.