Governor Signs LGBT Inclusive Education Bill

July 14, 2011
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The FAIR Education Act ensures that the historical contributions of LGBT peopleand the disability community are accurately and fairly portrayed in instructional materials

SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown has signed the FAIR (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful) Education Act, authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-SF).

The bill - SB 48 - ensures that the historical contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and disabled individuals are accurately and fairly portrayed in instructional materials by adding these groups to the existing list of under-represented cultural and ethnic groups already included in the state’s inclusionary education requirements.

“Today we are making history in California by ensuring that our textbooks and instructional materials no longer exclude the contributions of LGBT Americans,” said Senator Leno. “Denying LGBT people their rightful place in history gives our young people an inaccurate and incomplete view of the world around them. I am pleased Governor Brown signed the FAIR Education Act and I thank him for recognizing that the LGBT community, its accomplishments and its ongoing efforts for first-class citizenship are important components of California’s history.”

Research indicates that students who learn about LGBT people find their school environments more accepting of LGBT youth. Students are also more likely to report that their LGBT peers are treated fairly at school – and that other types of peer-to-peer disrespect also declines – when LGBT people and issues are included in instructional materials.

In addition to including the role and contributions of LGBT Americans in educational materials, SB 48 ensures that the contributions of disabled people are included. The bill also adds sexual orientation to the state’s existing anti-discrimination protections that prohibit bias in school activities, instruction and instructional materials. The bill is co-sponsored by Equality California and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network.

“Today marks a monumental victory for the LGBT equality movement as the struggle of the diverse LGBT community in California will no longer be erased from history,” said Equality California Executive Director Roland Palencia. “Thanks to the FAIR Education Act, California students, particularly LGBT youth, will find new hope and inspiration and experience a more welcoming learning environment.”

“I am awed and humbled to be part of this historic moment,” said Carolyn Laub, Executive Director of Gay-Straight Alliance Network. “Today, we've written the latest chapter in the LGBT civil rights movement – one that will now be presented fairly and accurately in California schools. By signing the FAIR Education Act and ending the exclusion of the LGBT community from instructional materials, Governor Brown has realized the hopes of youth who have been fighting for safe and inclusive schools, where all students learn about our history and gain respect for each other’s differences as a result. This is a part of the American story that we can be proud to know all students will learn.”

SB 48 passed the Senate in April and cleared the Assembly earlier this month.