Do you know about the The FAIR Education Act? Senate Bill 48 (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act), is a California law which compels the inclusion of the political, economic, and social contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people into educational textbooks and the social studies curricula in California public schools by amending the California Education Code. It also specifies inclusion of persons with disabilities.
The FAIR Act also revises the previous designation of “Black Americans, American Indians, Mexicans, Asians, [and] Pacific Island people” in that list into “Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and European Americans”.
It also amends an existing law by adding sexual orientation and religion into a list of characteristics (which already includes race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, and disability) that schools are prohibited from sponsoring negative activities about or teaching students about in an adverse way.
In particular, according to chief author former Sen. Mark Leno, it “ensures that the historical contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are accurately and fairly portrayed in instructional materials by adding LGBT people to the existing list of under-represented cultural and ethnic groups already included in the state’s inclusionary education requirements.”
The bill was introduced into the Senate in 2010, and was passed in 2011. At that time, Governor Brown said however that state textbooks probably would not be updated to reflect the requirements of the law until 2015.
In reality this has still not happened. We all need to ACTIVELY participate in creating resources to support LGBT inclusion for the new curriculum.
The GSA Network and Equality California, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights welcomed The Fair Act’s ratification into law.
The California Teachers Association’s President Dean Vogel stated, “We believe that curricula should address the common values of the society, promote respect for diversity and cooperation, and prepare students to compete in, and cope with a complex and rapidly evolving society. SB 48 does that by helping to ensure that curricular materials include the contributions of persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans to the development of California and United States.”
It is notable that the law does not include an opt-out option for parents who do not wish to have their children learn about LGBT topics in school. It has been opposed by the state Republican Party and socially conservative organizations. So far, their efforts to overturn the law have been unsuccessful.
Robin Lowey is a proud mother of two beautiful young men, now 20 and 26—both strong feminists—having grown up in a two-mom household. As been editor and creative director for Epochalips.com since 2010, her writing has appeared here, Lesbian.com and More magazine. As a member of the LGBT Speakers Bureau, she has been invited into the local high schools to help dispel myths about LGBT people. Check out the crowdfunding campaign for her new book intended as a resource for new LGBT curriculum in the California public schools.