LGBT history to be in textbooks

Where did you first learn about the Civil Rights Movement or Native Americans? The answer for many of us is similar. We learned history in schools and from our textbooks.

History could soon become more complete, pending a decision by the California State Senate.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, would require publishers to include gay and lesbian history in public school textbooks.

The bill would be an addition to the current state law, which requires that “men, women, black Americans, American Indians, Mexicans, Asians, Pacific Island people and other ethnic groups” be included in textbook descriptions of “the economic, political and social development of California and the United States, with particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society.”

Though it’s always preferred for social change to be initiated by the people, rather than mandated by the state, curriculum guidelines already exist and efforts to make them more inclusive shouldn’t be pushed to the wayside.

The LGBT community has been a prominent part of recent history, and many have gone as far as comparing the magnitude of the gay rights movement to that of the Civil Rights Movement.

Textbook publishers say they’ll make books inclusive of LGBT history for California, which represents 12 percent of the national textbook market. But they’ll also continue to make textbooks that don’t include it for states that choose to deliberately exclude it.

We can’t erase a group and their relevance to our society from history. This omission gives legitimacy to stereotypes and marginalizes a group still struggling to gain rights in society.

Opponents of the bill are scared there’s more to this bill than teaching history. They’re worried their children will be indoctrinated to become proponents of gay rights as a result of such curriculum changes. They contend the bill is the result of the LGBT community pushing their agenda, rather than the need for a more honest portrayal of American history.

On the other hand, the American Academy of Pediatrics policy states that environments critical of gay people interfere with the development of gay youth.

For parents who are worried homosexuality will become “mainstream,” we are more worried about how their kids will treat kids who are different from them once they leave the arms of their parents.