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The gays are on a roll! Or at least when it comes to the big coastal states like New York and California. The latter's state Assembly passed a bill late yesterday requiring California public schools to "teach the historical accomplishments of gay men and lesbians"; the state Senate cleared it back in April. This means Gov. Jerry Brown has about a month to decide whether he'd like to sign the bill into law or veto it. But considering that Brown is a California Democrat who, like all politicians, isn't opposed to making historic decisions that might land himself into textbooks, his state might very well become the first in the Union to pass such a law.
Supporters of the latest bill said it would simply include gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals in that existing requirement, making it part of the curriculum in history and other social studies classes.
"It's unfair to leave out or exclude an entire portion of our population from history," said Carolyn Laub, executive director of San Francisco-based Gay-Straight Alliance Network.
The group, which supported the bill, said no other state has passed similar legislation requiring the teaching of gay and lesbian contributions to society.
In fact, Laub pointed to a bill that passed the Tennessee state Senate this year that would prohibit the state's schools from teaching about homosexuality before secondary school.
The Tennessee proposal, which detractors have nicknamed the "don't say gay bill," has still not passed the state House of Representatives.
Of course, you don't have to look to Tennessee for opposition. "Writing these provisions into textbooks will further an agenda rather than teach facts," one Republican member of the California Assembly said. "When we do things, we politicize them because that's the nature of politics. We should leave education to the educators." Because the existence of gay people is not a fact? Edumacation!