California lawmakers on Tuesday sent the governor a bill that would make the state the first requiring public schools to include the contributions of gays and lesbians in social studies curriculum.
The bill, passed on a party-line vote, adds lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as well as people with disabilities to the list of groups that schools must include in the lessons. It also would prohibit material that reflects adversely on gays.
Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco says SB48 is crucial because of the bullying that happens to gay students. Republicans called it a well-intentioned but ill-conceived bill and raised concerns that it would indoctrinate children to accept homosexuality.
"This bill will require California schools to present a more accurate and nuanced view of American history in our social science curriculum by recognizing the accomplishments of groups that are not often recognized," said Assembly Speaker John Perez, the first openly gay speaker of the California Assembly.
The bill now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, who has not said whether he would sign it. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill in 2006.
Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a Republican from Twin Peaks, said he was offended as a Christian that the bill was being used to promote a "homosexual agenda" in public schools.
"I think it's one thing to say that we should be tolerant," Donnelly said. "It is something else altogether to say that my children are going to be taught that this lifestyle is good."
California law already requires schools to teach about women, African Americans, Mexican Americans, entrepreneurs, Asian Americans, European Americans, American Indians and labor. The Legislature over the years also has prescribed specific lessons about the Irish potato famine and the Holocaust, among other topics.
SB48 would require, as soon as the 2013-2014 school year, the California Board of Education and local school districts to adopt textbooks and other teaching materials that cover the contributions and roles of sexual minorities.