Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Thursday that makes California the first state in the nation to require the inclusion of the contributions of gay, lesbian and transgender Americans in school history lessons and textbooks. The legislation addresses omissions in history books, according to Gil Duran, a spokesman for the governor.
Brown issued a statement in which he called the legislation an “important step forward for our state.’’ “History should be honest,’’ Brown said. “This bill revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books.’’
“It’s an important step forward for the state of California,’’ Duran said. “It revises existing law to make sure people are not excluded from history books. History should reflect reality.” The bill by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) had sparked hot debate in the Legislature where it was pushed through by the Democratic majority. Republicans argued it forces a “gay agenda” on students, but Leno said it would reduce bullying by educating young people about the accomplishments of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, community. “Today we are making history in California by ensuring that our textbooks and instructional materials no longer exclude the contributions of LGBT Americans,” Leno said. “Denying LGBT people their rightful place in history gives our young people an inaccurate and incomplete view of the world around them.’’
The governor’s decision was criticized by Benjamin Lopez of the Anaheim-based Traditional Values Coalition, who said the schools should be focusing on doing better on important skills such as reading, writing and math. “It’s a sad day for the state of California,’’ said Lopez, legislative analyst and advocate for the group. “We have failed at our core educational mission and yet we are now going to inject gay studies into the classrooms. It’s absurd and offensive.’’