TV & Radio
Posted on Sun, Apr. 30, 2006
Bill would require textbooks to mention gays' contributions
SACRAMENTO - State Sen. Sheila Kuehl says a key aspect of history is missing from school textbooks - the contributions that homosexuals have made to California and the nation.
Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, has introduced a bill that would fill that void by requiring textbooks and other social science materials to discuss contributions that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people have made to the state and nation's economy, politics and society.
The bill also would prohibit textbooks from criticizing people because of their sexual orientation. Current law sets that standard for discussions of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender and disabilities.
It's scheduled to be considered Wednesday by the Senate Education Committee.
Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy, R-Monrovia, has a rival bill that would ban schools from promoting socialism, humanism or homosexuality. It also is up Wednesday, in the Assembly Education Committee.
Discussions of gays and lesbians are almost nonexistent in current textbooks, supporters of Kuehl's legislation say.
That leads "to the conclusion that they're worthless, that they never contributed anything, when the truth is there are quite a few people who were gay and did contribute," Kuehl said. "I think it helps both straight and gay students appreciate that talent is really scattered through our diverse population."
Benjamin Lopez, a lobbyist for the Traditional Values Coalition, an Anaheim-based group that views homosexuality as an abomination, doesn't dispute the fact that gays have been discriminated against and have made contributions to American society.
But he contends Kuehl's bill amounts to "social engineering and social indoctrination."
"You're talking about elevating a practice, a lifestyle, and putting it on par with the struggles of blacks, women and (other) minorities," he said. "As a minority myself, that's tremendously offensive."
Mountjoy said schools should be focusing on improving reading, writing and math scores, not doing "diversity training."
But Kuehl said that if schools are "silent about the diversity of talented people who were important in California, the impression is that only white, straight men did anything important. That leaves virtually everyone else in school believing their talents may not be sufficient."
The bill would require schools to implement its requirements as they normally replace textbooks and other instructional materials.
Here are some of the other bills that are up for votes this week at the Capitol:
STUDENT NEWSPAPERS - Assemblyman Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, has a bill that would prohibit University of California, California State University and community college officials from censoring student newspapers. It's scheduled to be taken up Tuesday by the Assembly Higher Education Committee.
Yee says the bill is in response to several instances in which administrators asked student journalists to modify, slant or withhold stories.
"This is all about sunshine, all about good government, all about accountability," he said.
INDOOR POLLUTION - Assembly members Sally Lieber, D-Santa Clara, and John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, want the state Air Resources Board to take its efforts to clean up the air indoors. Their bill, up Wednesday in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, would require the air board to develop a program to combat pollutants emitted by building products, consumer goods, appliances - even cockroaches.
SEX DISCRIMINATION - Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, is making her third attempt to boost penalties for employers who pay women less than men for essentially the same work. Two earlier bills were vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The latest version is before the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
COMPUTER RECYCLING - A bill by Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, would require the recycling of personal computers. It's also on the Assembly Appropriations Committee's agenda Wednesday.
HIGH SCHOOL DAYS - Sen. Richard Alarcon, D-Van Nuys, has a bill that could make him unpopular with high school students. It would require them to go to school at least five hours a day instead of the current minimum requirement of four hours. The Legislation, which would exempt night and continuation schools, is before the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.
ON THE NET
http://www.assembly.ca.gov and http://www.senate.ca.gov