Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Cultural Inclusion Bill

I can’t tell whether I’m sad or irritated about the new SB 48 bill from the California Legislature.  The bill deems to “prohibit discriminatory content” when teaching about cultural groups, people with disabilities, and people’s sexual orientation.  My sadness comes from the idea that necessary information would not be taught in schools because of people’s ongoing prejudices.  Take Randy Thomasson, president of  He feels that teaching about gays in history will “sexually brainwash” children into becoming interested in the gay lifestyle, whatever the hell that means.  It’s crap of course.  If a teacher isn’t being all inclusive with teaching history, then the instructor isn’t being a teacher, the instructor is being an agenda driven idiot. 

However, my irritation stems from how the law is written.   

Instruction in social sciences shall include the early history of California and a study of the role and contributions of both men and women, Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, European Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups, to the
economic, political, and social development of California and the United States of America, with particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society

Wow,pretty inclusive group. Sounds like the state wants me to teach about the history of California and the United States. You know, things I’m already doing.  And the real problem here is that the law is actually pushing that you spend more weight on gay and lesbian contributions to the United States, instead of actually spending time on people contributing to the United States.  For instance, do we actually give a shit that Walt Whitman was gay?  Do we say, “his contributions to American literature and humanism make him one of the most important figures in our history……..oh and he was gay too.”  That’s idiotic.  I thought sexual preference should not be a contributing factor in how we view people.  And when you find someone who’s primary contribution to American society was that they were transgender, and that it is seriously worth mentioning in a basic history class, let me know.  That’s not a knock, that’s a serious request. 

  I’m not saying we shouldn’t address gay rights either.  I spend about half a day on the Stonewall Riots, Harvey Milk gets a mention, and we talk about the issues with Reagan and gay rights in the 1980’s.  But I’m not about to go “hey, this person is famous simply because he/she is gay”, because that’s not history. 

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