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Right-Wingers Fight To "Protect" Children From The Reality Of LGBT Lives

April 08, 2011 2:26 pm ET by Carlos Maza

The California Senate Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday to advance the FAIR Education Act (SB 48), a bill that would require state schools to teach students about the contributions of gay, lesbian, and transgender Americans to the development of California and the United States.

The bill would add "gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans," to existing laws, which already require social sciences to include the study of the role and contributions of women, African Americans, Native Americans, and other ethnic groups. The bill would also prohibit the use of educational material that contains "any matter reflecting adversely on persons" on the basis of sexual orientation or gender.

Sen. Mark Leno, who introduced the bill, pointed to the recent string LGBT teen suicides in order to demonstrate the importance of providing LGBT youth with positive role models and messages about the LGBT community:

In light of the ongoing and ever-threatening phenomenon of bullying and the tragic result of suicides, it seems to me that better informed students might be more welcoming in their approach to differences among their classmates. Students would better understand that we are talking about a civil rights movement.

There is precedent for the effectiveness of similar legislation in reducing anti-LGBT bullying and homophobia in schools. Teachers at Stoke Newington School, a secondary school in London, say they have "more or less eliminate[d] homophobic bullying" between students by incorporating lessons about prominent gay historical figures into their lesson plans.

Since its introduction in December of 2010, however, Sen. Leno's bill has faced intense criticism from right-wing groups opposed to LGBT equality. As Michael Jones at Change.org wrote Monday:

[D]espite the fact that SB 48 would make California schools safer, anti-gay actors are out in full force trying to stop this bill from becoming law. More than 40 opponents of the measure came to the first hearing, telling lawmakers that homosexuality "was an abnormal medical condition," and that historical LGBT figures should not be part of school curricula because it would "normalize" a "deviant behavior." These same opponents have even launched a new campaign to try and stop SB 48, calling the bill "the worst school sexual indoctrination ever."

Several right-wing commentators have made it their mission to stop the bill, rehashing the same baseless horror story that has helped to turn moderates against LGBT equality in countless state and federal battles: gay people are trying to indoctrinate our children.

Bob Unruh, writing for WorldNetDaily, calls the bill "sexual brainwashing":

Majority Democrats in the California legislature have given another thumbs-up to a "sexual brainwashing" plan that would require public school students to believe transgenders, bisexuals, homosexuals and those with other alternative sexual lifestyles are role models to be admired.

Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, calls the bill a recruiting tool:

They want children in the classrooms statewide to be taught that they can be homosexual or bisexual or transsexual -- or they ought to be -- and that they'll enjoy it.

California Senator Bob Huff says the bill will "sexualize the training" of children:

To sexualize the training of our children at an early age, I do believe it will promote the agenda, and I think that's what is of concern.

A letter from the Thousand Oaks Christian Fellowship questioned the existence of "gay history":

This is all absurd. [...] At a time when our state lacks dollars to pay for the current needs in education, this Legislature is actually considering adding more financial burden on schools to pay for new textbooks that will teach so-called gay history.

These kinds of statements reveal the true nature of the right's goal in the fight over LGBT equality: the elimination of any recognition that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people even exist. For them, the mere attempt to discuss the lives of LGBT people is the equivalent of brainwashing children into a sexualized agenda. The legislative battle over a bill to include LGBT history in California school curricula is reflective of a much broader cultural struggle in the United States: the struggle to recognize that LGBT people are a real and valuable part of the American identity.