Bill prohibits discrimination against gays in schools

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! A bill that would prohibit textbooks, curriculum and school-sponsored activities in California’s public classrooms from discriminating against sexual orientation is making its way through Sacramento. Authored by state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Los Angeles, the legislation aims to add sexual orientation to the list of characteristics, such as race, sex, color and handicap, that are prohibited from prejudice when it comes to classroom instruction and school-sponsored activities. The proposal also seeks to include lessons in social science classes about positive contributions that gay leaders have made throughout history. Schools are required by law to teach about the roles that minorities have played with the country’s development. “I think that it’s a very difficult thing to be a student, to know that you’re gay and never ever read anything in 12 years of school that says gay people exist in California or ever did anything good in California,” Kuehl said Wednesday. When teaching about American poet Langston Hughes, for example, Kuehl said it wouldn’t hurt to mention that he was gay as well as black. The bill passed the state Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday and will head to the Appropriations Committee before it arrives on the floor for a vote. Critics of the bill, such as the conservative advocacy group Capitol Resource Institute, argue that it threatens traditional families, because it could change the definition of what a family means. State Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, said there’s more discrimination today against traditional family units than against nontraditional ones. She does not believe that school books are prejudiced against sexual orientation and called Kuehl’s bill unnecessary. “I don’t believe textbooks are discriminatory now,” Runner said. “They’re more discriminatory against traditional families right now. I think more and more people are trying to change the definition of family.” But advocates of the bill argue that it’s wrong to insist that there’s only one type of family today, and that the majority of households don’t fit that mold. Carolyn Laub, executive director for the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, said teaching about different types of families ultimately creates safer schools and prevents violence because students are better informed and more understanding. “We live in a society where many children are raised by one parent, a gay parent, grandparents or are in foster care. All of those kinds of families are part of the fabric of society,” Laub said. “Textbooks and curriculum, to the part where families are discussed, ought to reflect the true diversity in our society.” While special-interest groups spar in Sacramento, the bill has sparked some political reaction from teens. About 500 youths, including gay teens and straight allies, from across the state lobbied their lawmakers last month in the capital for the bill’s passage. Locally, the bill has hit home. At Saugus High School, Tere La Giusa teaches Spanish and is the co-adviser for Safe Haven, the school’s gay-straight alliance. La Giusa and her partner have two youngsters in elementary school and although the children haven’t faced discrimination for their family makeup, she said it’s something to take under consideration as they get older. “They know there are other families and their friends know there are other families,” she said. “But yet when it comes to legislation, I think people become faceless.” [email protected] (661)257-5254 last_img read more

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