A slew of teachers and some parents have made vocal their opinions concerning a new state law that requires districts statewide to incorporate the contributions of the gay community and the disabled into history curriculums following an last week.
The law, which applies to classes from kindergarten through high school and will go into effect Jan. 1. does not require new textbooks be reprinted to meet the requirement for several years; and how the requirement is implemented will be up to individual school districts and classrooms.
Superintendent Robert Haley has said the district is aware of the law and is awaiting direction from the state on how and when to implement it.
"We believe in a balanced approach to all of our teaching," he offered. "Everybody has something to contribute in society."
SB 48, authored by Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in July. Dubbed the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Education Act, the new law "amends the education code to include social sciences instruction on the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people." The law would also prevent any discriminatory instruction or materials from being used by the State Board of Education.
"I think it is a wonderful, and necessary, idea!" said Laura Martin Taylor in a Facebook group where we asked teachers, parents and community members what they thought. "Any group that is left out of societies history doesn't allow a "rounded out" perspective and essentially eliminates imporant historical information! Also, kids who are LGBTQ, or who are being raised in familes with members who are LGBTQ, deserve to know those important pieces of history! They need role models too!"
"As an openly gay man/teacher I have been including LGBTQ people in my conversations with classes at the elementry level since I started teaching 13 years ago," said Mark Galipeau, a teacher at John Reed Elementary in Rohnert Park.
"We, as teachers, must take the lead," Galipeau added. "Yet it is still a hard transition for some. Every school should have a face to connect and stand forth to help others be able to have these discussions."
"Any honest inquiry into our past as a still very young nation, should include the struggles of all groups to achieve the equality promised in our constitution," said Debra Amaral, another commenter.
Diann Johnson posited the question:
"Isn't teaching based in ... I don't know ... teaching? Isn't all of it valuable? Many parts of our history involve gays and lesbians. Teach it. Why shy away from it?"