Gay History Coming to the Classroom?

California teachers could soon be required to include the history of gays, lesbians and transgenders in their curriculum, after a landmark vote was passed Thursday in the state senate.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and passed on a party-line vote. It will now go to the State Assembly, and, if passed, it would then need to be signed into law by Gov. Jerry brown.

The bill, which aims to include gays and transgender in lessons given to students on social and ethnic groups, would also add disabled people to the curriculum.

According to an article in the New York Times, Leno, who is gay, was quoted as saying: “We are second-class citizens and children are listening. When they see their teachers don’t step up to the plate when their classmate is being harassed literally to death, they are listening and they get the message that there is something wrong with those people.”

Republicans are steadfastly opposed to the bill, and Sen. Doug La Malfa, of Butte, told the Times it would force children to confront sexuality at an earlier age.

Read More at the New York Times.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.

31 Comments

  1. So, why is it of compelling public interest to the people of California that their children should know how, when, and where three percent of adults use their sex organs?

    I thought that people wanted to “keep government out of their bedrooms.”

    Now they’re insisting on bringing their bedrooms into government classrooms.

  2. And we wonder why it is that our education system is failing our children. Can someone explain to me what is hard about educating our children in the basics? Teach them reading, writing, math, science, world and American History. Call it a day.

  3. Leno, who is gay, was quoted as saying: “We are second-class citizens…”

    We need lessons on second class citizens now? We don’t waste enough time with sit-ins, teach-ins and walkouts for first class citizens like Ghandi, King and Chavez at the expense of the 3 “R’s”???

    Is it any wonder why California’s schools rank so poorly in the nation and the world?

  4. Mr. Leno, who can’t distinguish his personal demons from the needs of the state, continues to add credence to my suspicion that homosexuals are too self-absorbed to properly represent the interests of the general public. This latest bit of nonsense, claiming a link between juvenile bullying and how history is taught, is just his latest legislative salvo aimed at a feature of human nature he neither appreciates nor understands.

    Children do not bully, tease, or discriminate against one another due to a lack of information, they do these very natural things due to a lack of consequences. Children, programmed by Nature to observe, compare, and evaluate their place (and that of their peers) in the pecking order, depend on adults to restrain them from their worst impulses. Deciding what (and who) is cool and what (and who) isn’t is the business of young people, and in a wide-open culture such as ours the often impulsive and fleeting judgments made by the various groups and cliques are far beyond our control. The most we adults can hope to do is compel these young people to be civil to each other while in school. Mr. Leno’s homo-erectus campaign, allegedly aimed at doing this very thing, is a sham, promising to achieve a goal that can only be attained by doing something neither he nor his peers have the courage to do, namely, return strict discipline and certain consequences to our public schools.

    Mr. Leno would like to force each and everyone of us to celebrate homosexuality, and he has, at every level of his political career, worked tirelessly to use the power of government towards that end. That he has had the near unanimous support of the gay community as he has abused his position is just one more bit of evidence of the danger of identity politics. With the state, and specifically the schools, facing truly monumental challenges, Mr. Leno continues to behave as would be expected of a self-centered, frivolous queen, so absorbed with her own image that she fails to notice her people are starving.

    • >>Children do not bully, tease, or discriminate against one another due to a lack of information, they do these very natural things due to a lack of consequences.

      Not true.  Children can bully, tease, or discriminate from misinformation.  Growing up learning that gay people are “Fags, Queers, Fudgepackers, sissy, etc” is no better than them growing up hearing white people are “White devils, honkeys, KKK, the man or trust fund babies”

      Going through school is a part of your training for interacting later in life with society as a whole.  Do we really want kids going out into life unprepared for the kaleidoscope of colour that represents all lifestyles and heritages of the human race?

  5. I’m not even sure where I stand on this without researching some more about it, but there are some really negative, intolerant comments in this blog. You’re really telling it to the gay community, huh?

    “three percent of adults use their sex organs”

    “We need lessons on second class citizens now? We don’t waste enough time with sit-ins, teach-ins and walkouts for first class citizens like Ghandi, King and Chavez at the expense of the 3 “R’s”???”

    “credence to my suspicion that homosexuals are too self-absorbed to properly represent the interests of the general public.”

    “Mr. Leno’s homo-erectus campaign”

    • > . . . but there are some really negative, intolerant comments in this blog.

      So, Mr. Eric, you would really like these commentators to remain silent.  Correct?

      Would you care to provide a list of comments and attitudes that you would allow?

      The world according to Eric:

      NOPE.

      NOPE.

      NOPE.

      NOPE.

      That one’s OK.

      NOPE.

      NOPE.

      NOPE.

  6. We’re going to have to get busy to find a new funding source for this new classroom experience in California’s schools.  Luckily we now know that there is $15B floating around in the Sacramento jobs program known as the state department of education that we can tap into for this issue.

    Yes, former Secretary of State George J. Schultz and the state department of finance disclosed in Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle that 30% of state education appropriations ($15B) is diverted from the classroom to non-classroom activities.  Funding this new state mandate will need more money, and luckily we have learned that at least $10B is up for re-allocating to the local school districts.  That should be enough to pay for this and many more classroom educational experiences.

    We need to get a campaign going in San Jose to adjust state spending to get more of the education appropriations into the classrooms.

  7. > I’m not even sure where I stand on this without researching some more about it, but there are some really negative, intolerant comments in this blog. You’re really telling it to the gay community, huh?

    Eric:

    Negative and intolerant?

    I don’t think that my comments could have been any more dispassionate and clinical:

    > So, why is it of compelling public interest to the people of California that their children should know how, when, and where three percent of adults use their sex organs?

    Instead of name calling, why don’t you take a crack at offering a grown-up answer. 

    WHY is it of compelling public interest . . . ?

  8. I have to second the comments by Eric. A lot of the comments here exemplify why we ought to include the history of sexual orientation in at least our high school level textbooks. They either make direct slurs and ridiculous accusations about gays, or just make completely silly arguments about the 3 R’s. Do any of you really think that high school is nothing but reading, writing, and arithmetic? Or even middle school? What about American history, literature, science etc? One person says we should focus on “history” but of course the sexual revolution was a major part of recent american history. All this weird animosity makes me wonder what is really motivating these comments. Would any of you really consider a student “educated” if he went through his entire k-12 career without learning about slavery or 19th century anti-catholic sentiment? I assume not. Be consistent.

    • Memo to:  Eric Johnson

      And so, Eric, a “gay” political agitator has intruded himself or herself into your forum and has resorted to identity theft to usurp the good name and credibility of “Visualize Liberty” and post disinformation.

      May I suggest that you invite him or her to cease and desist from identity theft, pack up his or her fraud and deceit and go somewhere else where his or her malignancy might be appreciated.  I don’t know where such a place might be.  Maybe moveon.org or the Daily Kos.

        • > Though our visualizations of liberty may be different, the great San Jose Inside remains our common assembly

          Stealing someone else’s voice doesn’t foster THEIR liberty.  Neither does it foster the liberty of those who want to hear diverse voices to form their opinions.

          Stop the sophistry!  Stop the identity theft!

  9. I had thought visualize liberty had turned over a new leaf! Oh well.

    I have to agree with Eric about some of the comments, especially the crack about “homo-erectus.” The problem with these aren’t related to “political correctness” but just basic kindness and decency. Most of the time when someone is criticized for making a gay/black/hispanic/whatever joke, it is because it was tasteless and unfunny.

    Those comments are rude for the same reason that it rude to tell a man that his wife is fat. And if that man tells you to shut your mouth about his wife, he is not “censoring” you, he is defending his wife. A lot of you guys are acting like you live in some Farenheit 451-nightmare, when, in fact, Eric was just asking you to not make gay jokes or treat gay people like they and their struggles in America don’t matter.

    As to the matter at hand:

    I would point out that the NYT article makes clear that California makes special reference not only to gays, but also Hispanics, labor, and even entrepreneurs. This is pretty common, and ultimately not something to get worked up about. (The entrepreneur stuff probably doesn’t turn kids into little Randians, now does it?)

    Likewise, I don’t get the demand that gay history be a “compelling public interest.” There are probably very few things in a history class that would meet that standard, including the treaty of Westphalia, the religious convictions of the pilgrims, the war of 1812, the distinction between the various French Louises etc. History taken as a whole is useful, but any individual event is probably of pretty marginal value. Why suddenly use the “compelling public interest” test for teaching the stonewall riots?

  10. What we have with Mr. Leno is totalitarianism tiptoeing in to the tune of tolerance. He wants to use the law to dictate how history/social studies is taught. Under his legislation textbooks will have to be rewritten so as to include positive images of people like himself but exclude anything that “might promote” bias against those same people. This is the kind of law that will make public education beholden to identity-politics.

    Imagine trying to responsibly teach the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s absent any mention of the role that behavior—recklessness, substance abuse, bath house debauchery, etc., played in the deadly epidemic? History under Mr. Leno’s law could only portray gay men as victims of a virus and a homophobic president (pretty much the way the media did), depriving students of real lessons about our inescapable biology and the traditional role played by moral standards in suppressing disease-breeding behaviors. 

    Imagine the poor textbook publisher trying to correctly assemble the who’s who of gays in history, where the evidence is at best confusing, the relevance typically non-existant, and the likelihood of political meddling all but guaranteed. Mr. Leno is already on record as equating, without qualification, the murder of Harvey Milk—a gay politician who was killed because he conspired against a political rival, with the assassination of MLK—a black civil rights crusader murdered because of his cause. This is revisionist history: gay activists can make good political use of a dead martyr, and Mr. Leno intends to have our schools manufacture one. This, folks, is only the beginning.

    Homosexuality is not an ethnicity and shouldn’t be treated like one. Gay students can only be identified by their behavior, not their skin color, native language, or last names. The developing sexuality of students should be treated as schools do developing religious convictions: not its business. If a student, homosexual or straight, decides to flaunt his/her sexuality in school, the school should react no different than it would should a student flaunt his/her religion, politics, wealth, or whatever. Disruptive behavior, whether in the form of bullying or agitating, need not be tolerated.

    No one is trying to make homosexuals disappear from history; their stories should, when significant, be taught, just as should the stories of Mormons, communists, thieves, or drunkards. Personally, I think the most pertinent lesson of the gay liberation story is the disgraceful, disingenuous manner in which they’ve used their newfound political power, scoffing at majority rule, publicly appealing for compassion while privately storming courthouses with armies of lawyers, and using intimidating, heavy-handed tactics against their political opponents. There is a self-centered, bitchiness to their brand of politics, and I guess that should hardly be surprising.

    • > There is a self-centered, bitchiness to their brand of politics, and I guess that should hardly be surprising.

      Call it “self-centered, bitchiness”; I call it pre-meditated purposeful passive-agressive nihilism.

      Whatever you call it:

      A.) it is NOT inherently gay, black, female, Jewish, proletarian or whatever;

      B.) it IS inherently a ruling class control mechanism as old as media driven “democracies”. 

      Totalitarian and authoritarian regimes don’t have the problem of interest group passive-agression because they don’t give a crap whether some group’s feelings were hurt or the King’s agent used an insensitive word.

      The modern textbook on passive-agressive nihilism is probably Saul Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals”, and his most celebrated student and practitioner is Barack Hussein (“You Just Hate Me Because I’m Black”)Obama.

      Another technique associated with passive-agressive nihilism is “political correctness”.

      Everytime a PC scold corrects you for being “insensitive” to this or that victim group, it is just a text-book exercise in attempting to gain power (or dis-empower another) using passive-agressive techniques.

  11. Sexual Orientation has basically become a civil rights group with the way the military ban was lifted and the marriage issue punted by the courts.  As a newly emerging “protected” class, there is some flexing of muscles in the civic realm and this is what’s going on here.

    As far as American education, we’ve devolved into such namby-pamby feel good, do nothing narcicists that basic educational skill sets are not the priority, but rather building self-esteem, acting as surrogate parents and extended day care, and making sure schools are inclusive.  I thinks that’s why everyone ranks education consistently as the number one issue that everyone cares about and we continually tweek it with junk like exit tests and NCLB, and other top down fixes that don’t really accomplish much.

    Curriculum “adjustment” is common in authoritarian countries where the ruling party decides which version of history students need to know, and what they don’t need to be exposed to.  I kinda think a free democracy is supposed to be kinda free-wheeling with multiple view points made available rather than just doctrine, but hey, its public schools, so what do you expect? 

    As far as introducing the role of gays and lesbians into the schools, show the junior high kids Spartacus and pause at the bath scene with Tony Curtis and explain what is probably really going on there.  Then maybe some pop culture education for more sophisticated young adults in high school, showing movies that play on gay and lesbian themes.  You can license the films for educational use and pay for them by showing commercials in the classroom, everyone happy…probably not, but what if the commercials were paid for by PC companies and espoused self-esteem stuff while shilling crap, like Nike, Levis, Apple, etc.

  12. I certainly hope that the schools must give each parent the option of having their child, and they are children, opt out of the class.  If the schools are going to make it mandatory attendance, I see a judge slapping an injunction on this one pretty fast.  Once again we see the government deciding that all of us are too stupid and lazy to educate our own children.  Sadly, some are but the majority are not.

  13. Mr. Cortese,

    My point was the behavior is natural. Mr. Leno’s legislation presumes the behavior is the result of a lack of information. Your reply, in which you state the obvious, namely, that children are not immune to their environment, addresses neither, but reminds me that we’ve yet to recover from the damage wrought by the nurture commissars who indoctrinated generations of young people into accepting the absurdity that behind every human difficulty or failure lies a culpable parent, teacher, or culture.

    Academic failure and serious on-campus misconduct are two of our educational system’s most daunting problems, and guess what: the students failing in class are the same ones assaulting other students in the hallway. The low-brow, high-testosterone thugs and bullies aren’t paying attention in history even when the topic is war and conquest, yet Mr. Leno imagines they will be enthralled and reformed when the subject turns to gay history. This is about as likely as his utopian dream of a culture in which a 9th grade boy swishing through the locker room will be accepted as normal. 

    As for the awaiting “kaleidoscope,” your thinking is perfectly aligned with that of the agenda groups who push for our schools and other government institutions to include education, sensitivity training, benefits, and job opportunities for each and every group that can muster up enough political capital to buy themselves an identity. The very idea that today’s kids, saturated with the gay-friendly content coming out of Hollywood and the news media, would alter their behavior if only they could read more of the same in their textbooks is ridiculous.

    Today mandated gay inclusion, tomorrow what? Do our textbooks do justice to alcoholics? After all, this much disparaged group has in its history as many distinguished politicians, artists, and warriors as any other. Wouldn’t learning about the great boozers of history make it less likely for students to chastise or shun their problem drinker classmates? Wouldn’t that promote understanding? You never know, a little bit of self-esteem just might turn that reckless, teenage alcoholic into something special—like maybe the next senator Ted Kennedy!

    Our kids should be taught history as deemed appropriate by the experts we pay to educate them, insulated from the changing priorities that rule Sacramento. If you believe otherwise, then I must assume you support the Bible Belt’s right to bring Christ back into the classroom.

    • > You never know, a little bit of self-esteem just might turn that reckless, teenage alcoholic into something special—like maybe the next senator Ted Kennedy!

      You’re a very naughty BS Monitor.

      Go to your room.

  14. The Gettyburg Address as Mark Leno would have it taught:

    “Four score and seven years ago our fathers, many of whom modern scholars believe may have been gay, brought forth on this continent a new nation dedicated to the proposition that all men, women, and transgenders are created equal and will by God be kept that way by the creation of many intrusive government programs.
    Now we are engaged in a great civil war testing weather that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those (most of whom, due to their long confinement with only members of their own gender, must surely have been engaging in homosexual activity), who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

    But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, pretty gay and really gay, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the gay agenda which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is for us to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us- the perfection of a nation in which gays are empowered to legislatively bully the people for special status- and that the government of the LGBT people, by the LGBT people, for the LGBT people, shall not perish from the Earth.”

    • What a better place it would be if you spent your time and energy on something positive instead of the negative attacks you seem to delight in.

      • The cybermusings of an anonymous nobody like me on a backwater blogsite like this don’t have even a billionth of the very real effect of that caused by the very real actions of those very real politicians who are often the target of my ‘negative attacks’. If you could only disable your PC filter and reconsider your priorities you might just decide to direct your disapproval toward people who actually abuse their positions of power and influence rather than those of us who are merely stating an opinion.

  15. Reason #1327 why the Teachers union is hated.

    The heavily medicated Leno (re-read his quote) doesn’t make a move like this without full backing of the Teachers union.

    In fact my guess is that the Teachers union initiated this considering the Teachers union spent over a million dollars to defeat Prop 8.

    To the teachers that hang out here:
    – how does it feel to have your union dues used for political purposes that have nothing to do with education and with which you may not agree with? 
    – shouldn’t teachers have the right to designate whether or not their union dues can be used for political purposes?
    – how does defeating Prop 8 and teaching gay history close the achievement gap, improve test scores, etc?

  16. I think this is just fine. But… please include the most currently vilified class of Americans. The History of Labor Unions in America.

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