The founder of the Gay-Straight Alliance Club said he is thrilled that Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed new legislation that requires social science classes to include the roles that gay, lesbian, bisexuals and transgender people have played in history.
“This law is very important because a lot of the time students at school only see stereotypes of LGBT people, from a variety of different sources—particularly in the media—and this law would give them another perspective by showing the contributions that LGBT people have made in history,” said senior Benji Delgadillo.
In turn, such awareness should reduce bullying and harassment of LGBT students and “improve the school climate as a whole,” he said.
In April, Delgadillo traveled to Sacramento to testify on behalf of the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act, which not only requires the teaching of contributions of the LGBT community, but also the disabled and people of other cultural groups.
In a blog about the trip, Delgadillo said his junior history book did include information about the 1960s' Stonewall Riots, considered to be the first public protest that marked the start of the gay-rights movement. But he had heard from other students that her teacher never discussed the riots with previous classes. So he asked why.
“By not hearing about LGBT history, a whole group of people that I identify with was being discounted,” he wrote about the teacher he did not identify. Delgadillo said he spoke to several teachers on campus.
“I explained that if he took the initiative to teach about LGBT history in the classroom, it would show students another side of LGBT people. … This would in turn change the school climate to be a more safe and inclusive space for all students and reduce bullying,” he wrote in his blog.
Delgadillo said his teacher responded positively and changed a PowerPoint presentation to include information about the Stonewall riots and the gay-liberation movement. “I had never smiled so much during a lesson in school. It made me so happy that I had the support of my teacher.”
San Juan Hills High AP history teacher Joe Snedeker said because teachers are on summer break until a week before school starts in September, there’s been no discussion on how to incorporate the bill’s objectives into the curriculum. He said he expects administrators to be working on the issue.
CUSD staffers, however, did not respond to a reporter’s questions about the bill.
“I do believe the textbooks will need updating,” Delgadillo told Patch. “And they actually will be updated to include LGBT history in a few years with the new cycle of updating textbooks.
Meanwhile, conservative groups decried the bill’s signing.
“Thousands of Californians—and citizens nationwide—contacted the governor, asking him not to place decisions regarding age-appropriateness of content outside the awareness of parents and not to open impressionable, young children to lessons crafted only to advance a pro-homosexual worldview,” wrote the California Family Council of Riverside, which has ties to Christian-based Focus on the Family.
CFC challenged Brown’s assertion that “history should be honest” by rhetorically asking: “[I]s it honest to delve into the background of those who have shaped our history and single out those with a pro-homosexual worldview?”
Correction/Clarification: Delgadillo is an openly transgender student who identifies as male and uses male pronouns.