California Educator

March 2012

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Contributions of GLBT and disabled persons added to social studies curriculum IN AN EFFORT to build a more tolerant atmosphere in the class- room and curb an epidemic of student bullying, schools in Cali- fornia wi ll now be required to include the historic contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans- gender persons and people with disabilities in their social studies instructional materials. The new law amends the Cali- fornia Education Code, which pro- hibits discriminatory instruction and materials against certain categories of people. Specifically, SB 48, the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respect- ful Education Act by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), adds the roles and con- tributions of GLBT and disabled persons to the current list of under- represented ethnic and cultural groups already included in social sci- ence instruction. Co- sponsored by Equality California and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, the bill was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last July and went into effect in January. "Given that the research that indicates students who learn about the LGBT community find their school environments more accepting of LGBT youth. "Children have a right to feel safe when they come to school. Currently, there is a heightened severity of bul- lying that is an epidemic," Leno says. "We're failing our kids." The bill also prohibits teachers from leading, or a school from spon- soring, any activity that promotes discriminatory bias on the basis of race or ethnicity, gen- der, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. In addition, the Mark Leno Children have a right to feel safe when they come to school. Education Code already requires that the role and contributions of African Americans, Mexican Amer- icans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, females, and other communities be included in the social studies curric- ulum, it seemed the role and contri- butions of LGBT and disabled were being censored," Leno says. During hearings on the bill last spring, Leno and others pointed to bill requires the State Board of Education and local governing boards to adopt textbooks and instructional materials that accurately portray these groups. The bi ll was the focus of heated oppo- sition by the Cam- paign for Children and Families and so-called parents' rights groups, who maintained the bil l would promote sexual indoctrination and create a separate GLBT social class. Opponents of the law failed at an attempt to collect signatures to qualify a referendum to overturn the bill last year, but are circulating peti- tions to place an initiative to repeal it on the November ballot. C. Scott Mi ller, co-chair of CTA's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues Committee and a member of the Santa Ana Educa- tors Association, called their con- cerns "ridiculous." "This has nothing to do with sex. story continued on page 36 March 2012 / www.cta.org 35 Teaching resources Textbooks that reflect new social studies content may be a few years off, so teachers will have to sort through a variety of resources that are currently available online. Below are websites of various organizations that offer resources for implementing the FAIR Education Act. Some of these websites also offer resources for teaching lessons in tolerance, bullying prevention, and creating a safe school. YO! YO! (Youth Organizing! Disabled and Proud) connects, organizes and educates youth with disabilities. YO! gives youth leadership opportunities, social networks, resources, and more. Its website offers a number of resources that teachers can use to implement SB 48. www.yodisabledproud.org/organize/disability-history.php UNHEARD VOICES The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and StoryCorps have collaborated to create Unheard Voices, an oral history and curriculum project that will help educators integrate GLBT history, people and issues into their instructional programs. At the core of the program are brief audio interviews with individuals who bore witness to or helped shape LGBT history in some way. www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/unheardvoices.html LGBTQ-INCLUSIVE LESSONS AND ACTIVITIES Gay-Straight Alliance Network, one of the sponsors of the FAIR Education Act, provides a list of resources including films, books, timelines and websites that offer lessons and activity ideas for teachers. www.gsanetwork.org/fair THE STONEWALL NATIONAL MUSEUM The Stonewall National Museum and Archives is a publicly accessible cultural and educational resource that preserves, interprets and shares the heritage of the GLBT community. www.stonewallnationalmuseum.org TEACHING AND LEARNING WITH THE NEW YORK TIMES The Learning Network, a New York Times educational blog, provides a collection of materials for implementing the FAIR Education Act including lesson plans, student opinion questions, and other teaching materials, along with multimedia and feature articles, including historical articles published since 1980. www.learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/22/teaching-and- learning-about-gay-history-and-issues EQUALITY CALIFORNIA The largest statewide LGBT rights advocacy organization in California, Equality California (EQCA) has moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation. Teachers can find information on current news events and issues on its website. www.eqca.org

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