A year ago last week, Jerry Brown signed a bill, sponsored and spearheaded by Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), one of our openly gay state senators, that mandated the teaching the contribution of gay men and lesbians to California history and required that textbooks include this material. As the New York Times noted, the bill had been passed in 2006, but Governor Terminator vetoed it.
Today, we learn, from the San Jose Mercury News, that a second effort to repeal the law by referendum on the November 2014 ballot has failed to gain enough signatures.
Maybe we've beaten the one-step-forward-two-steps-back approach to LGBT rights in California? I'll try not to get too excited below.
This is about to become a really hectic few months for me. Three conference papers (9/28, 10/19, 11/14), two encyclopedia entries (9/1), a book chapter (12/1), and expanding a course from 18 hours to 36 hours (due by 8/29). I was drafting a revision of a diary about the flaws of direct democracy when it came to protecting the civil rights of a minority to post around 11/1 to exhort the voters in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington State to flip the script on the idea that we lose they put our civil liberties to a popular vote when I found the link about this at americablog.com and I decided to post this because it's become so infrequent that we get good news on a state level (well, not THAT bad, but North Carolina, which still burns).
This bill is in many ways California's contribution to the "It Gets Better" movement. From the State Senate (it's SB 48, 2011):
Existing law requires instruction in social sciences to include a study of the role and contributions of both men and women and
specified categories of persons to the development of California and
the United States.
This bill would update references to certain categories of persons
and additionally would require instruction in social sciences to
include a study of the role and contributions of lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and
members of other cultural groups, to the development of California
and the United States.
In other words, to teach about all Californians, and I think especially to allow proper contextualization of the Harvey Milk story. Further:
Existing law requires that when adopting instructional materialsNote: Pacific Islanders and persons with disabilities. Not just us. Everybody who has been underrepresented or even erased in history texts. This, of course, will create a nightmare for textbook publishers, but now there will be a model that isn't the Texas model and the other 48 states will be able to choose between versions.
for use in the schools, governing boards of school districts shall
include materials that accurately portray the role and contributions
of culturally and racially diverse groups including Native Americans,
African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, European
Americans, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups to the
total development of California and the United States.
This bill would revise the list of culturally and racially diverse
groups to also include Pacific Islanders, lesbian, gay, bisexual,
and transgender Americans, and persons with disabilities.
This was proceeding along just like marriage equality, which Schwarzenegger vetoed TWICE before it went to the courts. As soon as it passed, the anti-gay forces went out to get enough signatures to put it on the November 2012 ballot, but that didn't work. Of course, the proponents of repeal couched it a a no indoctrination effort:
Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, called the law “indoctrination” and said there would be consequences for legislators who supported it. “The legislators will pay a price for the disrespect and intolerance of parents’ viewpoints,” he said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Parents across the state were outraged that the state is promoting indoctrination of viewpoints that many parents disagree with.”
Yeah, right. Not enough of them, apparently.
So they went out AGAIN to get signatures, this time for 2014, and again, no. The Mercury News observes that
Pacific Justice Institute lawyer Kevin Snider said the Stop SB48 campaign did not gather enough signatures by Monday's deadline to put an initiative on the 2014 ballot that would exclude sexual minorities from the list of groups whose roles in history and social science schools must teach.No, the usual appeal to churches failed by around 50,000 votes (approximately 505,000 signatures are required).
The bill hasn't been implemented yet, but it will be, and this is VERY good news! Flipping the script begins here.
7:46 AM PT: Okay. Off to UCLA to research one of the encyclopedia entries (and to look at the D&B Reference book of Corporate Management to see what IT says about Mitt and Bain - h/t Lasgalen Lothir). I should be back by 2 Pacific.