CA approves LGBTQ-inclusive textbooks

Carmel Abramov - Staff Writer, Landon Ferris - Photo Editor

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On Thursday, the California state board of education approved 10 LGBTQ-inclusive history textbooks for K-8 classrooms, becoming the first state in the U.S. to do so. Previously used textbooks failed to abide by California’s 2011 “Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful” Education Act (FAIR) due to the fact that they were non-inclusive. This legislation, written by Sen. Mark Leno, requires history and social science curriculums to teach about the accomplishments of LGBT people and people with disabilities. It also added sexual orientation and religion to a list of characteristics that California schools could not present in a negative way.

“Approval of these textbooks means that California schools will now have access to approved materials that accurately represent LGBTQ people, and Equality California applauds the State Board of Education for this historic decision,” said Rick Zbur, the executive director of Equality California.

Advocates say that this legislation puts the LGBTQ community on equal footing with other groups California children already learn about, as students study the history of black Americans, women and holocaust survivors.

“For kids to understand that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are part of our collective community, past and present, is a way for everyone to understand they belong,” said professor Don Romesburg.

Romesburg notes that LGBTQ youth continue to experience increased rates of bullying, family rejection and depression. Experts have been working on how best to include these stories in age-appropriate and relevant ways, training teachers on how to navigate potentially complex topics like gender and sexual orientation at a time when kids are also learning about multiplication and vocabulary words. Teachers will be required to attend several workshops to learn how to incorporate these topics into their lessons.

“I think it’s great,” said senior Rachel Lackey. “The new ruling includes a group of people who have been excluded for so long. It’s about time for people to hear the voices of the LGBTQ community.”

This new legislation is starting up a conversation in California. Parents and teachers are working together to find ways to integrate these new topics into the curriculum and knowledge of the children. With a joint effort between the administration, teachers and parents, this new legislation can help open up the minds of students. •

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CA approves LGBTQ-inclusive textbooks