“History should be honest,” according to California Governor, Jerry Brown. The Democrat signed legislation that will require schools across the state to include contributions of homosexuals into their curriculum.
“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.”
US History and the Struggle to Include Minorities
It wasn’t until 1976 that Black History Month was included in the US curriculum. There is a stark contrast from before this celebratory time of year was put into place and after. Without a doubt, including homosexuals in curriculum is a great step forward in humanizing and dignifying the community. The measure, authored by Senanor and civil rights supporter, Mark Leno states
“We are conspicuous in our absence in the curriculum. A page of civil rights is missing, and it’s an important page – especially in California.”
My father attended elementary school in Montgomery, Alabama. The students performed minstrel shows in black face, telling jokes and dancingto make buffoons of Black America. His graduating class from North Little Rock Arkansas’ Ole Main High was the last school in the country to integrate. His physics teacher, who regularly told racist jokes, began to preface them with, “well, this is the last year I can tell this joke.” He didn’t learn about a prominent Black American figures beyond George Washington Carver’s multi-faceted use of the peanut.
30 years later, in the age of Black History Months, I received a very different lesson. Mr. Dunlap arranged for an ABC’s of Black History. Every student drew a letter that would be the basis for a one-sentence description of a Black American’s contribution. Mine was,
‘C is for ‘cowboys’ who rode through the west. Bill Pickett was one of the best.’
I learned the horrors slaves faced. I learned how their rich culture became the foundation for much of the modern American identity. Most importantly, I learned that Black Americans were people who deserved their own chapter in our historical education.
“The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King
The comments on media sites that broke the news are the same tired narratives we’ve heard over and over again.
- The colorblind argument: We shouldn’t look at any groups of society, just individuals and their accomplishments.
- Sarah Bachmann position: God says homosexuality is wrong. You can pray it away.
- Ironically pro-choice comment: People are trained to be homosexual. If you don’t want to be mocked, don’t be gay.
Even recently, India’s health minister called homosexuality a “disease” from the West. Another level of irony is that, in the wake of efforts to begin educating Californians about the community while same-sex marriage (better known, simply as ‘marriage’) is still illegal in the state. The queer community is as old as time and that they’re just now being recognized as a ‘group’ is tragic.
Needless to say, there’s still a lot of work to be done in educating and eroding intolerance. This historic step forward that other states should adopt, if we hope to see transformative changes in the next generation. As Carolyn Laub, executive director of California’s Gay-Straight Alliance Network, said,
“[The bill] is a victory not only for the LGBT youth in California who have been fighting to be heard in Sacramento and represented in their history classes, but also for all California youth who deserve to learn a fair and accurate account of California and U.S. history.”