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Entries in Harvey Milk (1)

Saturday
Jul162011

Calif. Adds Gay Rights Advocates to History Books

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Harvey Milk, the first openly-gay man to hold elected office, and Kathy Kozachenko, the first lesbian woman elected to office,  will soon join the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Susan B. Anthony in the pages of civil rights history in California.

A law signed Thursday by Gov. Edmund Brown requires public schools to include members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities in their history lessons. The law also ensures disabled people and Pacific Islanders are included.

Opponents of the bill argue that the curriculum changes are one-sided and prevent teachers from presenting any negative information about homosexual people.

The law’s changes will not show up in California textbooks for at least five years because of the state’s textbook adoption process.

But teachers could choose to create their own lesson plans about figures like Harvey Milk as soon as they wanted, said Rebecca Rosa, a social science education lecturer at the University of California Davis.

Rosa said the law includes people for their accomplishments, not specifically because of their sexual orientation.

“The idea is we are looking at individuals who have made a difference because of events,” Rosa said. “If that person’s accomplishment has something to do with their sexual orientation then it’s huge, it’s significant.”

While California’s new law nudges the state’s curriculum in a more liberal direction, standards passed last year in Texas take the Lone Star state down a more conservative path. The two states are the largest textbook buyers in the country.

In May Texas Board of Education members approved changes to the curriculum that were the center of fierce partisan debate among board members and around the country. They were adopted by a 10-5 vote down party lines in May.

The new standards, for example, add greater focus to the Christian traditions of the founding fathers, replace the word “capitalism” with “free enterprise system” and show that the fears of McCarthyism were confirmed by the Verona Papers.  

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