California’s Gay History Law Sparks Debate

In the new year, a controversial law that requires schools to add lessons on gay history to social studies classes in Californian is set to go ahead. And UT San Diego, in an attempt to gauge consensus, has published letters from their readers which mark strong opinions in the community – both for and against the law.

There has been vocal protest against the first-in-the-nation law, which would see figures and events in the history of gay rights be taught alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez and Susan B. Anthony in the classroom.

But many believe that this will create an unnecessary distinction.

One reader, Donna Cress, commented:

“Why can’t California just teach HISTORY to our children? I’d like our children to learn about all important events and people, whether they are gay or straight, disabled, Hispanic, Black, female or even white males.”

Supporters say the measure will broaden understanding of the roles and contributions of overlooked figures in history.

Another reader, Jamey Lee, summed up how many proponents feel:

“If we teach tolerance, acceptance, and diversity in schools, it would lead to less bullying and broaden peoples perspectives of those who are different. To suggest that it would promote homosexuality is completely absurd.”

It is thought that this kind of instruction will lead to a better understanding and awareness of the values of those who may be viewed as different – such as gay citizens. And it also looks to help provide students from these groups with positive, public role models at an age when they are susceptible to bullying.

But many are recognizing the radical change of “mandating that teachers must only teach one side of any subject, and from a pre-ordained perspective.”

Reader Eileen Kolkey wrote:

“Californians have prided themselves on attempting to produce young students with minds capable of critical thinking and analysis. Yet now, on a subject of importance to a politically powerful special interest group, and in response to that group’s unrelenting pressure, we are about to sacrifice forever the element of truth in the teaching of history.”