LGBT in California

Dianara Abarca & Nora Graham

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Knowing the history of our country plays an essential part in being educated, moving toward the future and making change. It is significantly helpful in this day and age when a record percentage of people now identify as social liberals. Social liberalism is a political ideology motivated by the goal to find a balance between individual liberty and social justice. This is mostly seen in a changed attitude toward social issues and increased support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community. Recently the state of California has joined this movement.

In July the California State Board of Education came to the agreement that LGBTQ history will be required in public schools’ curriculum. This decision is a part of the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Education Act, a law that has been in effect since 2012 but hasn’t been seriously enforced until recently.

In a news release published on July 14, 2016 on California’s Department of Education website, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said, “This is a big win for our students. This document will improve the teaching and learning of history and social science. It will give our students access to the latest historical research and help them learn about the diversity of our state and the contributions of people and groups who may not have received the appropriate recognition in the past.”

These new requirements would make sure that students are taught about different types of family structures, prominent LGBTQ historical figures and LGBTQ milestones. These new improvements will help students understand the diversity in the world and would make it easier for young people to feel validated about their gender and sexual preferences.

“This curriculum will make school a more open and accepting [environment] because if students are exposed to more LGBTQ [issues] then they will be more aware of our differences but also [realize] that we’re really not that different. It kind of astounds me that we have waited this long to [move] forward into even something as basic as our school system,” said sophomore Linnea Macmillan.

California has been known for its progressive and liberal ideals. These open-minded beliefs provide a range of benefits and relief for minorities who are often subject to blatant discrimination. California provides an exemplary model for other states to follow since advancements in this state are constantly being made.

History teacher Frank Garcia said, “I think California is in the forefront of equal rights for all groups and people. We always have been and California will set the trend for the rest of the country in my opinion. For now it may just be a California thing but I think it eventually will spread. The rest of the country will learn from us.”

Textbooks will now cover more information about the LGBTQ movement and significant  LGBTQ members throughout history. Beginning around the second grade students will begin to learn about different family structures like families with adopted parents or LGBTQ families.  In fourth grade students will be introduced to important figures in the LGBTQ movement and by high school they will continue to learn about LGBTQ contributions in history. The most information will be covered in high school when students take their U.S. History class. They’ll learn about LGBTQ communities throughout historical time periods and the discrimination LGBTQ members have faced in the United States.

“I think [if this would have been introduced earlier] it would have felt less taboo to be queer or gay because it would have just felt like you’re a part of history and not so different from everybody else because you’re included as well. It makes it less of a weird thing for people and it’s just an accepted thing where it’s part of what’s going on in the world [normally],” said senior Arlene Reynolds.

It can be very difficult for people in the LGBTQ community to open up about a part of themselves that is very personal and could put them at risk of being physically or emotionally hurt by their peers. These new requirements will hopefully have positive impacts on students. Having students learn about the history and struggles of the LGBTQ community will also hopefully alleviate some of the harassment that students face when coming out.

“It will allow kids to become more…accepting of themselves because I know that that’s a struggle for LGBTQ kids and students. It’s hard for them to even accept themselves because it’s such an outlandish thing for a lot of people,” said Reynolds.

People do hear about LGBTQ subjects on their own but further education is necessary for those who don’t receive much information on the subject . Additionally some people constantly hear information that’s misguided, inaccurate or based upon stereotypes.  This implementation in public schools will help youth accurately comprehend the various milestones that the people of this community have accomplished.

There are obviously going to be people and school faculty who are against this revolutionary change as they feel that this topic should be optional for parents to teach to their children themselves. However it is almost ridiculous to not teach kids about the world that they are living in today. They will grow up to be their own people with opinions shaped by their life experiences. Exposing young people to the history of the LGBTQ culture will only work to inform them of the diverse world they live in.

Senior Victor Magana said, “I think there are going to be some people protesting [the new curriculum] because they don’t want to change their old ways of thinking. [It’s] 2016 and people should know more about it…and not be that ignorant. There are a lot of different people [all around] so they just have to realize that it is not the same as before.”

History textbooks attempt to provide the most factual and unbiased perspective of a topic even if it is not always the best representation. In order to completely and accurately represent the scope of human achievement, all of history should be included. Preferences should not be a factor in representing the timeline of  history especially if it involves the omission of information. This objectivity has been missing for too long a period of time and it is positive that something has been done about it..

The changes could take up to three years to be incorporated into the school systems fully. Teachers need to be trained on how to teach the material and new textbooks will need to be printed with the new material included. Although these changes won’t be in effect for a few years they will surely have a positive impact on the lives of young LGBTQ members and help people understand how LGBTQ members have helped shape the world the way it is today.

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LGBT in California