Tolerance in face of hate

Never before have public schools systematically taught about the contributions of lesbian and gay historical figures, effective Jan. 1, 2012, that is set to change.

The bill that could pull this switch is SB 48. In short, the bill will allow the instruction of history to include contributions of lesbians and gays. Even more importantly, textbooks produced for the state of California would include this information. California is one of few states that order textbooks. Smaller states, having less influence in the market, buy textbooks that the large states commission. So, when California makes these additions, many other states will be receiving the additions, making ripples on a national level.

In July 2011, the California Legislature sent the bill to Governor Jerry Brown who promptly signed it into law. Soon after, Capitol Resource Institute, seeking to repeal this decision, was granted a petition for a referenda. With 504,760 signatures by Oct. 12, 2011, the bill would appear on the November 2012, ballot for the voter to decide.

Capitol Resource Institute announced Oct. 11, 2011, they would not reach their goal. Even after appealing to the public through daily emails, asking for signatures and money. Even with their own website displaying a ticking countdown, the group did not garner enough signatures. Not nearly enough, either. An email sent to supporters said it would have taken a miracle.

With all this effort and such results, it seems as though the people of California might just want this bill. Why wouldn’t they?

This would be an enriching addition to the curriculum. No one is trying to take anything away, lessen the education or change kids minds. It is simply giving a more complete account of our history and including a group of people who have been left out for so long. Who ever heard of history without daVinci or English without Emerson or Wilde?

Parents object to their children learning about homosexuality. But isn’t it better for them to learn about it in an educational environment than from the internet, T.V. or their friends? I hate to be the bearer of bad news folks, but they will learn about it eventually. Parents who would rather teach their kids themselves wouldn’t be teaching quite as objectively they should. For this, I say as individuals you have every right to be racist, ignorant and hateful. But it is beyond wrong to impose that worldview on a child.

So, while many people oppose leaving it for the schools to teach, I would argue that taught under fair and balanced guidelines, it is a clear success. The example of objective teaching will lead to informed students which could, in turn lead to acceptance.

Acceptance of LGBT students beginning in grade school would mean fewer instances of bullying, fewer cases of depression and significantly fewer suicides. Tolerance from others would help LGBT individuals in coming to terms with their sexual identity.

Some other concerns from the opposition likely include the fact that “this information could persuade otherwise straight students to become homosexual.” I could not even attempt to address everything that is wrong with that claim. Though, to name a few, objective information is not persuasive, problems stemming from homosexuality are far from glamorous and it is widely believed that sexual orientation is not a choice.

Honestly, when was it that you consciously decided on your sexual orientation? Oh, never? So I suppose then that any outside information you’ve ever received didn’t help in making that subconscious decision. Interesting.

Again, I hate to bring bad news to all the parents counting on straight children but if your child is gay, it will be an issue eventually. Everyone can deny it, suppress it and run from it, but that is a miserable life to attempt to live. Why would you want that for anyone you love? This bill could make it easier.

People opposing this bill are clearly misinformed. It seems that given the right circumstances (adequate time and money) this addition to the public education system will benefit everyone, LGBT youth especially. Support for this and future pro-LGBT initiatives is the best way to show support.

Every reader knows someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, regardless if you know they are or not. Show your support for them; make it easier.