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LGBT rights groups told a California state commission Wednesday that they object to several of the textbooks that could be recommended for use in schools, saying the books don’t include enough information about the contributions of LGBT Americans.
The state Department of Education is preparing to update textbook recommendations for the first time since California became the first state to require teaching about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
A coalition of LGBT rights groups said the books should not merely include a token reference to San Francisco civil rights icon Harvey Milk but integrate the contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people throughout history. They also said the books should point out when historical or cultural figures had same-sex partners, like astronaut Sally Ride, Jane Addams, who is considered the mother of social work, entertainer Ellen DeGeneres or tennis champion Billie Jean King.
“It’s not something to appease a particular part of the population but to truly include inclusive history throughout grades K-8,” said Renata Moreira, executive director of Our Family Coalition, an LGBT advocacy group in the San Francisco Bay area.
A state commission is weighing which of 12 history and social science textbooks to recommend for pupils in kindergarten through eighth grade.
The coalition wants two of the books to be rejected and a third be turned back unless the publisher agrees to make substantial changes. Seven others were recommended for approval with minor changes while two were deemed adequate in their current form.
To receive the state’s recommendation, the books are supposed to comply with a framework that requires teaching about LGBT people and events and to portray diverse Americans. With more than 6 million children in public schools, California is the nation’s largest market for textbook makers. LGBT groups hope the state’s recommendations will be carried through to textbooks sold in other states as well.
Some of the textbooks make mention of famous LGBT figures such as TV host, Ellen Degeneres, and pioneering astronaut, Sally Ride, but don’t explain what their historical contributions are to the LGBT community, said Howe.
One of the elementary school textbooks features a picture of two male figures as a unit, amongst other pictures of varying family structures, but doesn’t further explain how a same-sex home is also a family, according to Howe.
The activist groups graded the 12 textbook programs on an “A” to “F” scale, and completely rejected two of the books, approved another two, and asked for edits with the remaining textbooks in question.
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