Teaching #LGBTHistory in Ca #FairEducationAct


In 2011, the FAIR (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful) Education Act  was passed in California. It simply stated:

When adopting instructional materials for use in the schools, governing boards shall include only instructional materials which, in their determination, accurately portray the cultural and racial diversity of our society, including:

(a) The contributions of both men and women in all types of roles, including professional, vocational, and executive roles.

(b) The role and contributions of 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 total development of California and the United States.

(c) The role and contributions of the entrepreneur and labor in the total development of California and the United States.

In 2016, the State Board of Education adopted an updated History Social Science Framework that included the above changes and the inclusion of LGBT history.

In 2017, the State Board convened 10 panels to review history social science textbooks for alignment with the state history framework and state history standards. The State Board of Education will take action on the recommendations in November 2017.

During the textbook adoption process, there have been over 5000 comments submitted to the California Department of Education – some in support of the updated framework and textbooks and some against. I was interested to read this blogpost from the California Family Council entitled “Tell Sacramento to Keep LGBT Curriculum Out of Elementary Schools.”

For years, history teachers in California have been teaching about various religions without promoting a religion; teachers have been teaching about various cultural norms without promoting a specific culture, and teachers have been teaching about various social movements and civil rights groups without promoting a specific strategy or movement. The study of history is the study of people and events of the past. The California State Framework in it’s introduction states “It is the obligation of the state of California to impart upon all students an engaging and relevant history–social science education that will shape how they participate in their world.”

Teaching LGBT history is one part of history that has not been included in the study of history in the past, but there is a rich history of individuals and events to be told – right along with the study of civil rights, ethnic studies, and women’s rights. LGBT history is part of American history and therefore is now included in California schools. Despite the fact that it is the law in California, inclusion of all people in the study of history better engages all students in their learning and causes more students to be successful and graduate from high school.

As I explain to various groups that I speak with, there is a difference between:

  • Teaching LGBT history
  • Advocating a lifestyle
  • Promoting a religious belief

The FAIR Act and the textbooks currently before the State Board of Education promote the teaching of LGBT history – one important part of American history.


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