July 05, 2011, Melanie Nathan
SACRAMENTO – The FAIR (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful) Education Act, authored by Senator Mark Leno, passed the Assembly today with a 49-25 vote. The bill ensures that the historical contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) 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.
“We are selectively censoring history when we exclude LGBT Americans, or any other group of people, from our textbooks and instructional materials,” said Senator Leno (D-San Francisco). “We can’t tell our youth that it’s OK to be yourself and expect them to treat their peers with dignity and respect when we deliberately deny them accurate information about the historical contributions of Americans who happened to be LGBT.”
Research indicates that students who learn about LGBT people find their school environments more accepting of LGBT youth. Students are also more likely to report that their LGBT peers are treated fairly at school – and that other types of peer-to-peer disrespect also declines – when LGBT people and issues are included in instructional materials.
In addition to including the role and contributions of LGBT Americans in educational materials, the FAIR Education Act adds sexual orientation to the state’s existing anti-discrimination protections that prohibit bias in school activities, instruction and instructional materials. The bill is co-sponsored by Equality California and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network.
“This is a victory not only for the LGBT youth in California who have been fighting to be heard in Sacramento and represented in their history classes, but also for all California youth who deserve to learn a fair and accurate account of California and US history,” said Carolyn Laub, Executive Director of Gay-Straight Alliance Network. “By passing the FAIR Education Act, the Assembly has taken an unprecedented step to reduce bullying, increase safety for all students, and teach students to respect each other’s differences.”
“The struggle of the multicultural and multiethnic LGBT community in California is one of the greatest stories yet to be told,” said Equality California Executive Director Roland Palencia. “The FAIR Education Act will ensure that public schools acknowledge the heroism of individuals and communities who in spite of countless barriers continuously overcome adversity.”
SB 48 passed the Senate in April. It now goes to the Governor’s desk for his consideration.