Effort to Repeal California Gay History in Schools Officially Fails

Back in July, California officially passed SB 48, a bill which required the state of California to include the contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to our nations in its textbooks. Since California is the biggest market share of textbook buyers of any US state; this is a big deal; it could significantly influence the curriculum in textbooks nationwide. Of course, initiatives to reverse the bill’s passage started immediately — but repeal efforts faced an uphill battle.  As of Wednesday, the repeal of SB 48 has finally failed. 

Groups that opposed SB 48 were circulating a signature intended to demand a vote on the bill and call for its repeal. They needed 505,000 signatures by Wednesday, and they didn’t have them. Even more telling as far as how unfeasible a repeal apparently was, “Traditional Values Coalition spokesman Benjamin Lopez earlier said the groups had decided not to file regardless of whether they reached the threshold.” That doesn’t mean everyone’s given up, however. Some are convinced that the petition was effective in sending a message, if not actually accomplishing what it set out to do.

Brad Dacus with the Pacific Justice Institute, which spearheaded the ‘Stop SB 48’ campaign, says whether they rounded up enough signatures or not — it won’t stop their efforts. “We’re convinced that this sends a loud signal to the legislators in California that if they’re going to adopt this kind of anti-parent, anti-family legislation, they can expect to hear about it one way or the other,” said Dacus.

The plan now seems to be to punish Democratic legislators for passing the bill the next time they’re up for reelection, bringing up the issue in terms of a lack of family values and “respect for parents” as a vote draws nearer. At the same time, some are planning to go back to the drawing board with a petition strategy, creating a ballot proposition that would deal in general with children being taught curriculum of any kind in school that their parents didn’t endorse. (Although California has a law that ballot initiatives have to stick to a single subject, so that might be tricky.)

It’s a nice coda to what’s really a pretty long story. In 2008, Prop 8 passed in large part because voters were goaded into a misguided fear that legal same-sex marriage would somehow lead to “gay marriage being taught in schools.” In 2011, a law is passed that confirms those fears as much as any actual real-world legislation will, and its most vitriolic opponents can’t manage to drum up even a full petition to try to oppose it. Having SB 48’s safety won’t fix everything, and it can’t ensure safety at school for queer kids or respect for their families. But for queer kids in California and maybe across the nation, it can at least give them something to be proud of.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

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  1. “Anti-parent” legislation? Because there’s no such thing as a gay kid with parents who are concerned about their wellbeing, obviously.

  2. In 10-20 years when Kansas schools get new text books, I have a feeling they will just skip over these parts ..like they do with evolution.

    • The depressing part is you’re probably right. But. Even if the content isn’t addressed in schools, it will still be there for kids to read on their own. And probably most of the students will skip right over it, but it could mean a lot to certain kids who need it. It tells them they’re not alone, and that LGBT leaders exist. So it might not have the impact we want, but it is still going to change lives.

      • Maybe there’ll be kids like me who enjoy looking at random chapters of textbooks that aren’t in the lesson plan and finding buried treasure.

        Then again, I was also the kid who read dictionaries and encyclopedias for fun.

        • Oh, so was I. Okay, I still am. The point is that even if it isn’t discussed, the kids who need it are going to seek it out in the text. And maybe we can convert them into the types of people who read dictionaries for fun.

          (By the way, have you ever read “Reading the OED”? It made my dictionary habit seem SO under control)

  3. So a measure that’s already PASSED costs too much… therefore a group should spend much MORE money trying to get it repealed.

    Spending tens of thousands of dollars for ‘saving money’ on education by taking out facts–almost as good as fucking for chastity.

  4. so who gets the right to say that a family is defined as a man and a woman? that parents are only allowed to be male and female? a family is whoever it wants to be, and people should only care that these parents are providing a good life for their child, not if they are man and woman, or same sex. why do these people get to only choose to listen to the parents who are male/female, b/c they choose to?
    do they just not care about all the children who have been adopted by same sex couples and could otherwise still be in foster care of worse?
    i was raised in a ‘traditional’ family, by my mother, and was abused for most of my life by her. so i can say from first-hand experience that ‘traditional’ families aren’t all that these people proclaim them to be.

    • Its amazing how social issues creep into education. So why again please tell me should any teacher be educating my child at all about the a traditional or untraditional family? I am strongly opposed to teaching any kind of sexuality preference in schools whether it be gay, transgender whatever. Thats up to me and then please tell me the significance of these individuals sexual prefence as it pertains to their contributions to society? If I had a march or a protest about the recent tax hikes and identifying myself as someone who enjoyed giving oral sex and wanted to be recognized as a blower, people would consider it irrelevant and unimportant. So why do these people want to be recognized for things they should be doing in the privacy of their relationships or significant other. I have a husband but guaranteed Im not tellin the media and everyone who walks buy the nature of oyur sexual relationship. Gays aren’t being discriminated against they just want a legal means to justify their moral corruption. As a heterosexual it seems as though we are the odd ones out. I gave birth to my children, they are mine they will be raised according to my values as does any child. THis bill begins to infringe on my right to raise my children the way that I please. I would love to see these folks with no kids sit and watch me give birth and then tell me I dont have a right to control and moniter what they are taught.

      • Angie, you just told us WAY more about your own personal sex life than any California kid is ever going to hear about any gay figure in school.

        Announcing that you’re gay or bi is first and foremost announcing who you love, and secondly, announcing that you are not ashamed to love them. This bill isn’t about sex education, it’s about learning about people’s true lives and identities.

        Will it matter? Yes, it matters– the first time I saw a collection of antique photos of gay couples I broke down and cried. Because I was able to *see* that people like me existed throughout history, and didn’t appear suddenly in the mid-1960s as evidence of moral decline.

        If kids learn about Martha Washington in school they should also learn about Eleanor Roosevelt. When they learn about the civil rights and feminist movements of the 50s-60s they should learn that the gay rights movement was closely intertwined. When a 5th grader ends an essay about a historical figure with “he died, leaving behind his wife and three children”, another classmate shouldn’t feel like they have to skip “her partner cared for her at her bedside”.

        If your values include lying to your children, or covering up the existence of 2-10% of the population, or deleting the truth from history, then feel free to pass that onto your children– the California state government won’t stop you. But for your children’s sake, I hope none of them are queer.

  5. “Stop SB48. It costs too much.”

    Spending money on educating children?! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO….

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