Will California Governor Jerry Brown side with fanatics or fact in gay history fight?
California legislatures recently passed the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act, legislation that requires schools include LGBT contributions in their social studies courses.
Even though over a week has passed since the state’s Assembly signed off on the bill, California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, still hasn’t signed the landmark legislation, giving both left and right plenty of room to plead their case.
LGBT group Equality California has called on its allies to flood Brown’s office with support for the legislation. “This critical law would ensure that students in public schools learn about the LGBT civil rights movement and the contributions of LGBT people to other movements and to society,” wrote the group’s executive director, Roland Palencia, in an email to supporters.
“With this bill, we will have the opportunity to define who we are, instead of being defined by harmful messages filled with bigotry that dehumanize us.”
Conservative opponents aren’t as measured in their alarmist messaging: the right wing California Family Council claims “blatant pro-homosexual history curricula on innocent young children,” and the alarmingly-named Save California calls the history legislation “sexual brainwashing,” and claims that the bill “prohibits teachers from providing students with the facts about these lifestyles.”
Said the group’s president, Randy Thomasson, “This sexual brainwashing bill would mandate that children as young as 6 years-old be told falsehoods — that homosexuality is biological, when it isn’t, or healthy, when it’s not.” His evidence? Some gay people, like every other human who doesn’t practice safe sex, contract HIV/AIDS.
Education has become a hot battlefield for culture wars as of late, largely from the conservative end of the political spectrum: Tea Partiers are hoping to enlist the Mormon Church to launch a constitutionalist crusade in our nation’s schools, and the Texas Board of Education last year approved text books that push a social conservative slant.
And, yes, California’s FAIR Education Act was just the same: political groups, in this case Democratic lawmakers and their liberal constituents, pushing a curriculum that helps their cause. Unlike the Texas and Tea Party examples, however, the FAIR Education Act wants to broaden education’s scope, not restrict it.
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.”
Governor Brown now has six days to make a decision on the bill; inaction will render it null and void. Brown has supported LGBT rights in the past, including working against Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in California, and one can only hope he’ll do so again.
If not, then he’s siding with a group of discriminatory fundamentalists and will find his own history forever tarnished.