When California second-graders learn about families, they learn they come in different shapes: Some are formed through adoption; some include only one parent; others, only grandparents. And from now on, textbooks will also teach them that some families have two moms, or two dads.

California is set to become the first state to use LGBT-inclusive textbooks in elementary schools. The State Board of Education approved 10 LGBT-inclusive history textbooks for kindergarten through eighth-grade classrooms last week.

“The great things about these books is that they serve our students well,” says Tom Adams, deputy superintendent for the Teaching and Learning Support Branch of the California Department of Education.

“We know there are many students out there who are LGBT or whose parents are,” he says. “This is a reality that most of our students have in their schools and our instructional materials should reflect that reality.”

In fourth grade, textbooks will teach kids about a notorious bandit-battling California stagecoach driver named Charley Parkhurst, who was born a woman but lived as a man.

Polly Pagenhart says that’s important. “It occasions a conversation for kids about why a person would live their life as a man,” says Pagenhart, policy director for Our Family Coalition, one of several organizations that worked toward the inclusive textbooks. “What does that tell us about gender roles or the possibility for women to live full lives in the Wild West?”

Pagenhart says the new textbooks will change how students learn about the history of social change movements, too. “The LGBTQ movement won’t be omitted, as it often has been in the past,” she says, noting that LGBT activists’ work helps shape the world kids live in today. “There’s a lot of changes to constitutional law that have happened as a result of LGBT civil rights movement work.”

Advocates expect there will be some lively debate at the school district level. But Pagenhart says, “It’s really important for people to bear in mind that telling [students] about what is true is different than advocacy.”

School districts do not have to use these textbooks, but if they don’t, they still have to use materials that include LGBT people’s role in state and U.S. history: California law requires it.

The adoption of these textbooks is the latest step in the implementation of California’s 2011 Fair Education Act, introduced by former state Sen. Mark Leno (who’s now running for mayor of San Francisco.)

Under the law, social sciences curriculum in California and the United States must include the contributions of LGBT Americans, people with disabilities and members of other cultural groups.

“I think it’s going to be a beautiful thing to see how this plays out in classrooms and in generations to come,” Pagenhart says. Her children grew up with two moms, “and they’ve felt, before they got to third grade, the sting of ignorance on the part of their peers,” she says.

Sally Ride became the first American woman in space on the STS-7 space shuttle mission. (NASA)

Her kids have also come out as gay, and she says schools offered few role models. “Or if they’ve learned about them — like Sally Ride — they wouldn’t have known that not only was Sally Ride the first woman in space, she was also the first gay person in space. That kind of stuff makes a difference.”

The newly approved textbooks also include more information on the farm labor movement and the role Filipinos played in it; information about the Mexican Repatriation Program, which illegally deported thousands of Mexican-Americans in the 1930s, many of whom were U.S. citizens; more details on African-American history, specifically the institution of slavery; and more on the plight of Native Americans in California’s missions.

When the board approved the 10 textbooks last week, it also rejected two books that didn’t include LGBT history, violating California’s 2011 Fair Education Act.

California Becomes First State to Adopt LGBT-Inclusive Textbooks 15 November,2017Vanessa Rancano

  • virgil

    What is the surprise here? CA public schools are already like Maoist re education camps.

    • Eric Kamm

      “Maoist”?! How so? Be specific. Mao said “that peasants should be the bulwark of the revolutionary energy, led by the working class in China.” We in the U.S. would call that “grass roots” work and we generally support that the will of the People be followed. Please support your answer.

      • virgil

        I was very specific —I said they are like Maoist RE EDUCATION CAMPS. I did not day they were Maoist. I often call my work place a GULAG. Does that mean I think my boss is a Stalinist? No. I was being sarcastic and engaging in some hyperbole. But yes there is a kernel of truth here. The state is intervening to promote rad social policy for which BTW there is not much scholarly relevance.

      • virgil

        Yeah Eric I wonder how Mao’s China dealt with LQBTGI folks? Em part of the grass roots? BTW for someone who demands supporting evidence I noticed you don’t provide citations.

  • Curious

    The inmates are in charge of the asylum.

    • Eric Kamm

      How so? Make your claims and support your view. That’s what teachers teach in the classroom.

      • virgil

        Teachers are teaching what the state has ordered them to teach. You make it sound like teachers have discretion in this matter, They are operating based on what the state tells them must do. We should revert to local discretion. Some dist. like SF would want to waste time on this junk science while others like say Bakersfield will want to spend time on an education that might actually helop the student in the real world.

  • Fess12

    When my daughter was in 4th grade in the 80s, all the children wrote a state report about CA. There was lots of the usual, state flag, state bird, that sort of thing. One page was to be a biography of a famous CA person. She wanted to write about a famous woman. One little problem: in those pre-google days, the go-to 4th grade reference was the World Book Encyclopedia, and WB did not list one famous woman for the whole history of CA. Not one. Google it today – there are dozens of options, all of which were left out of the WB in the 80s. One was actually some relation to me:

    “Dr. Willella Howe-Waffle [1854-1924] was one of
    Orange County’s first woman doctors, delivering over 1000 babies during
    her 38 years of practice. She was known for her kindness and devotion to
    her patients.”

    Leaving people out of school books does not make them non-existent. Gay people, even famous ones, exist. Telling 7 year olds that all families consist of a mom, a dad, and kids is absurd. There are contrary examples right there in the room – single parents, divorced parents, adoptive parents, kids living with grandparents or aunts/uncles, married relatives with no kids, lots of models besides mom-dad-kids. My 9 year old grandson had a Little League teammate this year who had two moms who came to every game to cheer him on. None of the kids thought it worth a comment. CA has joined the 21st century, and that’s a good thing.

    • Curious

      “Telling 7 year olds that all families consist of a mom, a dad, and kids is absurd. There are contrary examples right there in the room – single parents, divorced parents, adoptive parents, kids living with grandparents or aunts/uncles, married relatives with no kids, lots of models besides mom-dad-kids.”

      Yep, that’s why America is on a downward spiral Great job!

    • Todd Brown

      Just because these things exist does not mean we should encourage them. There is not a better family situation (statistically) than one with a mother and father. I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings.

      • Michael Dann

        > Just because these things exist does not mean we should encourage them.

        But we should acknowledge them.

        It is not the position of the state to be favoring one living arrangement over another, just as it is not the position of the state to favor one religion over another.

        • M CA

          then why are they showing favor to the LGBQT community? They are favoring a living arrangement, that is over simplified, but they are favoring a “lifestyle”. Telling grade school age kids about these lifestyles accomplishes what? California Schools don’t even teach kids how to balance a check book. But they spend money, time and energy for this nonsense.

          • Eric Kamm

            M CA, It is not “favor” to add a group that has existed, does exist, to the curriculum. The Fair Education Act says nothing, nothing at all about favoring LGBTQ people and their history above anyone, rather it says that teachers can add to the history, by including yet another group that has been historically made invisible and/or has a history of systemic discrimination and marginalization. Do you really think that children will not eventually learn that there are LGBTQ people in society and that laws also exist to support them? Your personal contempt for LGBTQ people is clear, and that’s why the Fair Education Act is necessary, because you would continue the oppression and marginalization. Thank you for illustrating this so very well.

          • M CA

            “oppression and marginalization”? How am I oppressing or marginalizing them? Because I do not agree to the state putting in curriculum about a few random people and trying to influence our youth to same sex or other types of sexual connotation? No one is oppressing anything. They are kids. You open the door to this, then what? My view does nothing but object. You really think kids need to be exposed involuntarily or directly to this mess? In this day and age they have enough to deal with daily. My “contempt” you say is not for the people/community in general, but for the propaganda being forced daily to these kids. This is just one thing of many.

          • virgil

            First, EK, there is a question of age appropriateness —sorry but I and probably most parents think the 4th grade is a bit early for kids to be introduced to a very very small minority of the population who were gender blenders as with the case of “Charlie” Parkhurst. Second, class time is limited and precious. Priority is always at issue. What is going to make 4th graders better citizens? Spending limited amount of instruction time on say MLK or Alexander Hamilton or Jane Adams or instead Charlie Parkhurst? I mean come one this doesn’t pass the laugh test.

      • Eric Kamm

        Mr. Brown, Perhaps you can cite evidence that supports your claim? The Fair Education Act doesn’t say teachers have to teach about same-sex couples raising children, they might if it is necessary but it’s not required. Same-sex marriage and families do exist now, regardless of the Fair Education Act and eventually, kids will figure that out. Teaching about LGBTQ citizens is not “encouragement” it is simply stating they existed and contributed in some way to California history, which is true.
        However, as you’ve made a claim, perhaps you can show the superiority you claim by providing evidence to support your argument. That is what we teach; make a claim(s), then provide supporting citations and let the evidence speak for you.

    • M CA

      I think the kids can figure out themselves that a typical American family doesn’t consists of an in home mom, dad, and kids. That model wasted away long ago for most, and divorce rates steadily increase every decade. The real problem here is the time and effort to try to force little kids to be exposed to different lifestyles, homosexual lifestyles to be exact. A little 4th grader doesn’t know anything past what it is exposed to. All this “Her kids have also come out as gay, and she says schools offered few role models.”, is ridiculousness. I have family members who are crazy, gay, straight, fat, skinny, etc. Their lifestyles today were influenced by what they were exposed to as kids. Molestation, rape, porn, broken relationships with mom and dad who lived in the home and are still married some 45 years later. They are dysfunctional because of what their parents did to raise them and expose them to as kids to teens. Ultimately, a state looking to include a small population to begin with and accommodate them at the price potentially of these kids minds and sexual preference is what I disagree with. CA needs to spend more time fixing the infrastructure, these roads, and not taking guns out of law abiding citizens hands.

  • virgil

    Oh Great!!! So we will have kids leaving the 4th grade knowing who a notorious bandit-battling California stagecoach driver named Charley Parkhurst, who was born a woman but lived as a man but ignorant of Ben Franklin, John Adams or Louis and Clark. Thanks so much the cult of political correctness!!!

  • virgil

    So what is next? My guess is 4th grade field trips to the Folsom St. Fair in SF. I mean why not? S/M B&D types have been traditionally marginalized and excluded from the mainstream.

  • virgil

    If CA schools are gonna go PC than go all the way. Replace all spelling of “women” in text books with “womyn” and start calling it Herstory not History!! They will do it eventually so do it now and save on printing another 10 editions of the text book.

  • Piper Lawney

    Oh, what a nonsense! I really cant imagine it! I don’t want my daughter to think its normally. There are boys and girls, and they should behave as the nature predetermined that! Children have a very tender psyche and LGBT, sex, drugs ( what’s next???) can infuence it. And what about homeworks? no sites, even https://pro-papers.com won’t help with it!

  • stacey

    Sally Ride was not the first gay astronaut. She was married, at the time, to Steven Hawley until their divorce in 1987, the same year she left NASA. She was straight during her time as an astronaut due to her marriage to a guy. She, apparently, chose to be a lesbian after she left NASA so, more correctly since we need to mention her sexual preference, she was the first American woman into space who eventually became a lesbian. That kind of stuff makes a difference. “Or if they’ve learned about them — like Sally Ride — they wouldn’t have known that not only was Sally Ride the first woman in space, she was also the first gay person in space. That kind of stuff makes a difference.”

Author

Vanessa Rancano

Vanessa Rancano is the Central Valley reporter for The California Report. Before joining KQED she was an NPR Kroc Fellow and a California Endowment Fellow with Latino USA. She’s a graduate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

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