|J. Edgar Hoover and Supposed Lover Clyde Tolson|
California schools will be required to teach about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans starting Jan. 1 as part of their social science curriculum thanks to SB48, a bill introduced by Mark Leno, San Francisco. Despite the fact that the budget crisis has delayed the purchasing of new books until 2015 or later, schools must still implement the new curriculum and the new books, when they are purchased, must include information on the role of LGBT Americans, as well as Americans with disabilities.
Supporters of the bill believe that the law will make public schools safer for LGBT and disabled students and help reduce bullying by showing that there are many important and well-respected LGBT and disabled historical figures. This may be true and it will certainly help reverse public ignorance about two large classes of people who have been systematically erased from history. It will no doubt help foster a sense of pride and self-confidence among students who might otherwise feel isolated and second class. Indeed, LGBT students and students with disabilities are among those most often bullied in school.
The law does nothing, however, to directly address bullying or homophobic behavior in schools. Homophobia and prejudice will continue to be promoted in society outside of school and many students will continue to resist the curriculum and act out against their peers. Our society will remain stratified and competitive, with bullying and ostracizing persevering as weapons for maintaining status or for climbing socially. Consider that social science curriculum already includes material on Islam, slavery and the Holocaust, yet racist bullying and prejudice continue to be a problem in many schools for students of these backgrounds.
Truth in Advertising?
The San Francisco Chronicle quoted Gov. Brown who said, "History should be honest. . . . This bill revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books."
Contrary to Brown’s quotation, the law does little to make history more honest, nor does he want it to be. History, perhaps more than any other subject, is designed as a means of social control. It is taught to help create a populace that buys into the American Dream mythology, accepts American democracy as the greatest and only acceptable political system, worships the free market, identifies with the interests of the rich and powerful, and fears and attacks anyone who disagrees. It is exactly this kind of population that creates and perpetuates the wealth and power of the ruling class, including Jerry Brown.
The last thing the ruling class wants is honesty in history curriculum, in which students learn how the ruling elite steals, plunders and kills in order to acquire wealth and control over resources. They do not want kids learning about the thousands of American workers slaughtered by federal troops, state militias and private thugs during the Great Upheaval of 1877, Homestead Strike, Matewan massacre, Ludlow massacre, coal mine wars of West Virginia, Centralia massacre (just to name a few), not to mention the tens of thousands who have died on the job because of dangerous working conditions and company greed. Nor do they want students to identify with the victories of radical groups like the Knights of Labor or the Wobblies or the anarchists and communists. Hence, they created labor day and erased International Workers Day from American history, despite the fact that it commemorates a U.S. historical event—the Haymarket affair, which occurred in Chicago and was integral to the fight for the 8-hour day.
The Gay Agenda: Converting Children Into Homosexuals
Homophobes, particularly many religious people, have opposed the legislation, citing their religious beliefs as justification. Of course, this is like saying that because I’m a racist, slavery and the Holocaust should not be taught, or because I’m a fundamentalist, evolution should not be taught.
Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster (Los Angeles County), the vice chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Education, was quoted in the Chronicle worrying that "if children in other countries are learning math and science, and American children are learning about the private lives of historical figures, how will our students compete for jobs in the global economy?"
Pure homophobia, nothing more.
Children already learn about the private lives of historical figures. Who cares if Washington had wooden teeth. However, the fact that he had slaves, which is arguably about his private life, is certainly relevant to an understanding of history and, more importantly, economics. Likewise, Harvey Milk was not just a politician who happened to screw men. He was a gay politician and activist who fought for the rights of gay people. His sexual identity was not a private part of his personal life, but a major part of his politics, too. And, for that matter, if we consider the bulk of history, which is designed to promote the interests of the wealthy, one could argue that it’s all about their private lives (e.g., maintaining a system that allows them to own multiple homes, yachts and cars).
|Alexander the Great|
To Runner’s credit, she did not bring up paranoid fantasies about kindergartners being taugh about anal sex and strap-ons. However, many bigots are coming out of the woodwork with such fears. Obviously this is absurd and ignores the fact homosexuality, like heterosexuality, is about far more than what happens in bed (e.g., love, families and relationships). Leno’s legislation is not about sex education or even homosexual education. It is about a superficial mention of LGBT historical figures. For example, instead of saying that Alexander the Great created one of the largest empires in ancient history, the textbooks might also mention that he was homosexual. Of course, the books would still gloss over the fact that thousands of innocent people were slaughtered, cultures destroyed, and resources stolen in the process and the fact that in ancient Greek culture it was quite common for men to take on young male lovers, often children, while still having female wives.