Assembly OKs Ban On Negative Teaching Of Sexual Orientation

GaySACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – The state Assembly approved a measure Monday to prohibit teaching or using instructional materials in public schools that negatively portray people based on their sexual orientation.
As it has since it was introduced earlier this year, the measure generated strong feelings on both sides of the political aisle. Opponents said discussions of sexual orientation belong at home, not in public schools.
Originally, the bill — SB1437 by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica — would also have ordered public school instructional materials to include the contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
But in May, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the “Legislature should not micromanage curriculum” and pledged to veto the bill if it reached his desk. After the bill passed the Senate, Kuehl removed the requirement that textbooks mention the contributions of gays and lesbians.
Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, D-Los Angeles, who presented the bill on Monday, said it is needed to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students from harassment.
“Harassment occurs each and every day,” Núñez said. The bill “says to LBGT students that they, too, are human. Let’s send that message to those students, that they matter, that their humanity is just as important as anybody else’s.”
Schwarzenegger has yet to say whether that change will yield his signature. But a spokeswoman said he “continues to have concerns over its impact on textbook selection.”
The bill now would not allow teachers and textbooks to “reflect adversely” on people based on sexual orientation.
A prohibition against negative portrayals of people based on various characteristics such as ethnicity, gender, nationality or religion has been state law for more than three decades.
Even though the bill no longer requires textbooks to discuss the contributions of gays and lesbians, Assemblyman Ray Haynes, R-Murrieta (Riverside County), argued there is no reason to discuss the sexual orientation of historical figures.
“Great people in history did great things regardless of their sexual orientation,” Haynes said. “Quite frankly, the only things that would matter (are) the great things that they did in history.”
Haynes said schools have enough trouble teaching the basics such as reading, writing and arithmetic, and that these new mandates would be a “waste of time” for students.
Assemblyman Jay La Suer, R-La Mesa (San Diego County), said sexual orientation is something to be discussed at home, not on school time — an echo of arguments against the bill used by groups who don’t want any expansion of gay rights.
“Keep it out of our schools where you have children who are young and impressionable,” La Suer said.
The bill is consistent with existing laws that bar discrimination based on sexual orientation, countered Assemblyman Dario Frommer, D-Los Feliz (Los Angeles County), and simply clarifies the language to include sexual orientation of individuals.
“We’re not advocating anything, we’re not taking one side or another. We are saying there shouldn’t be any stereotyping,” Frommer said.
The bill returns to the Senate for a final vote, where it is expected to win easy passage before lawmakers adjourn for the year Aug. 31.
from The San Francisco Chronicle

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