Tag Archives: SB 1437

LGBT Related Bills in the Closing Days

Dan Walters (he of the global warming agnosticism) did a little summary of LGBT related issues in the Legislature.  I’m just going to borrow a bit from him, and add a little explanation of my own.,

  • SB 1437: The Curriculum law.  After Arnold’s veto threat, Kuehl has gutted the bill of the textbook provisions.  Now the only thing that remains is the provision against “reflecting adversely” in the classroom.  It will pass the assembly and will be sent to the veto.  I’m not sure if Schwarzenegger will sign it though.  There are pressures on him from both the left and the right on this one.

    The ironicly named Campaign for Children and Families has their spin on the “reflecting adversely”, which I find pretty humorous:

    As a result, several school activities will be deemed to “reflect adversely” on transsexuality, bisexuality, and homosexuality:

    • School proms (Prom “kings” and “queens” could not be gender-specific)
    • Gender-specific sports (“Boys Basketball” would be “discriminatory” against transsexuals)
    • Cheerleading (Can you say “transsexual cheerleaders”?)

    Personally I love the rhetorical question about “transsexual cheerleaders”.  It’s quite the bugaboo for them.  Unfortunately for them, there are no provisions against transgenedered cheerleaders now.  In fact no restrictions on gender at all.  Another funny story here, when the Speaker was making the amendments to the bill on the floor, Dennis Mountjoy challenged even the gutting of the bill.  I happened to be in the Assembly at the time.  Mounjoy stood up and said that he didn’t want his name on anything related to SB 1437 at all.  So, a little more gay baiting from the man who went on a talk show with a gay host and called homosexuality deviant.

  • “Senate Bill 1441, also by Kuehl, which would prohibit discrimination in public programs based on sexual orientation, similar to provisions now barring discrimination by race or gender, sent to Schwarzenegger for signature or veto on Thursday.”(SacBee 8/14/06) 
  • “Assembly Bill 606, by Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, which would require school districts to implement programs to combat harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation, with the threat of withholding state aid for noncompliance, pending in Senate after Assembly approval.” (SacBee 8/14/06)

    This is another big bugaboo for the Far Right.  They think for some reason that this ends their “protection against the homosexual agenda.” Well, ultimately it works to end discrimination, which I suppose is bad for them.  The more bigots the better as far as the “Campaign for Children and Families” is concerned.

  • “Assembly Bill 1207, by Assemblyman Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, which would change the state’s voluntary code of campaign conduct to include a ban on negative appeals to prejudice based on sexual orientation, awaiting final vote in Assembly.”(SacBee 8/14/06)
  • A bill very similar to AB1207 was vetoed last year  by Schwarzenegger.  I don’t think he could possibly sign it.  It would be quite hard to campaign for a gay marriage ban while not bashing gays.  It’s pretty much part and parcel of the GOP’s game.  Not likely that we’ll see a Republican sign that one.  Attacking gays is pretty much the last refuge of the bigots.  It’s still acceptable to the GOP, and it helps them get elected in places like Monrovia (home to the Mountjoy clan).

Dan Walters on LGBT Harassment in School’s: Nothing Moral about Stopping it

Dan Walters doesn’t dig on “mandating propaganda.” Alright then, well, I assume Mr. Walters was in an outrage when Sec 51204.5, which mandates the study of various ethnic groups, first became law and was studiously pursuing the revision of the entire law. I’m sure he was also up in arms about the provision of law which requires that, “No teacher shall give instruction nor shall a school district sponsor any activity that reflects adversely upon persons because of their race…”  Well, no you say?  He only began criticizing the law when Sheila Kuehl introduced legislation to include the LGBT community in its provisions?  Well, isn’t that convenient.

Sure, Dan will point out that he was livid, livid I tell you, about the Hindu American Foundation suing the state.  Back in April Dan summarized the case as: “Implicitly, the suit is telling state officials that the textbooks must be altered to reflect the Hindu American Foundation’s version of the ethnic group’s history – regardless of what that history may truly be.”

Well, let’s go look what remedy the complaint actually sought…an educated, balanced perspective rather than an ill-informed and biased one. Amongst other things, some of which are shall we say, a bit more propagandist, the complaint seeks a fair description of Hindu beliefs as Hindus beleive. (The exact language: “description of Hindu theology and its understanding of divinity be consistent with the understanding of practicing Hindus”) gasp!! These people want to descibe their religion accurately! How terrible that would be.

But the more intersting part of Walters’ argument regards Lloyd Levine’s AB 606.  After describing the provisions, Walters goes on to inform the reader of Levine’s thoughts. Wow, who knew the Bee had a columnist with ESP?!

Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Los Angeles, is carrying Assembly Bill 606, which has moved through the Assembly and the Senate Education Committee on party-line votes. Ostensibly, it would require school districts to be more proactive in preventing discrimination and harassment of those with non-heterosexual orientations, building on a 1999 Kuehl-written law that made such discrimination and harassment illegal.

A few passages in the bill, however, are generating political heat from conservative “pro-family” groups. One would give the state schools superintendent enforcement powers, including the ability to withhold state funds for any school district deemed to be insufficiently diligent, and suggests that classroom instruction would be a factor. Another provision, just eight words long, would repeal a provision of Kuehl’s 1999 legislation, added to gain its enactment, that exempted curriculum from scrutiny in harassment and discrimination allegations.

Together, those sections of the Levine bill, opponents say, are a backdoor way of requiring pro-gay instruction similar to what Kuehl’s current bill mandates. They’re calling on Schwarzenegger to reject it as well. The criticism about the bill’s true intent is probably accurate.

Treating all people, regardless of sexual orientation, with absolute equality is one thing. In seeking such equality in marriages and other fields, gay rights advocates, it could be said, are occupying the moral high ground. There’s nothing moral about legally mandating propaganda of any kind in the classroom.  (SacBee 7/14/06)

Levine’s AB 606 seeks to deter “discrimination and harassment.”  The 1999 bill excepted the curriculum.  Why? Well, ask the Right.  But why should we accept harassment and discrimination in the curriculum? AB 606 doesn’t request a whitewashing of say…the AIDS epidemic. It merely empowers the State Superintendent to ensure that students of California are receiving a fair curriculum, not propaganda.  AB 606 helps to ensure a hospitable environment for all of California’s students, and that’s a goal we all should share.

The Death of SB 1437, the LGBT curriculum bill, and Arnold’s sly shift to the right

Governor Schwarzenegger’s Director of Communications, Adam Mendelsohn has thrown the right a bone by announcing that the governor will veto Sen. Kuehl’s SB 1437.

“The governor believes that school curriculum should include all important historical figures, regardless of orientation,” said Schwarzenegger’s director of communications, Adam Mendelsohn. “However, he does not support the Legislature micromanaging curriculum.”

Wednesday’s announcement signaled a death blow to the efforts of state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, the openly lesbian author of the measure, to obtain recognition for the contributions of gays, lesbians, transgender and bisexual people to the social and historical landscape.

Kuehl’s bill had passed the Senate on a 22-15 vote on May 11 and was awaiting hearings in the Assembly. She expressed disbelief that Schwarzenegger, who traditionally has withheld comment on legislation until it passes the Legislature and reaches his desk, has broken with his own precedent and made up his mind on a bill that still hadn’t been vetted by one house of the Legislature.(SacBee 5/26/06)

So what could the reason for announcing a veto of this bill?  Amongst all others?  Well, I can think of one reason and one reason only.  He wants to throw a bone to the right.  Listen, this bill would not cause any major altertations of the curriculum.  Current law already includes other minorities in barring “adversely reflecting” against the minorities.  It has not changed the schools.  This law would simply allow LGBT citizens to receive the same treatment as other minorities in the state.

And you can rest assured that the wing nuts will not be satisfied:

“We’re very pleased that Schwarzenegger is listening to the concerns of parents,” Thomasson said. “Now the governor needs to pledge to veto the two remaining transsexual, bisexual, homosexual bills, AB 606 and AB 1056. Parents and grandparents are demanding it.”

I’m pretty sure that Thomasson doesn’t speak for California’s parents; neither should Arnold.  There have been a few instances when Arnold has shown his true colors: he is no moderate.  Now we need to make sure that the California electorate understands that too.

SB 1437 debate heats up

Sen. Sheila Kuehl’s SB 1437 is back in the news.  The SacBee published an excellent article about the current debate:

Sen. Bill Morrow, R-Oceanside, agreed that bullying and harassment have no place in school. However, he doesn’t believe the bill is a panacea.

Morrow, who spoke out against the bill on the Senate floor, called the legislation unnecessary, noting there’s nothing in the state’s education code preventing schools or teachers from discussing homosexuality.

[Student gay activist Lance] Chih said he has had to seek out his own heroes in literature.
Chih believes there are lessons to learn. For example, the gay rights movement was sparked by civil disobedience. The 1969 Stonewall riots in New York was one of the first times in modern history a significant body of gay people resisted arrest when police raided gay bars.  Students whose memories may include the slaying of Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard in 1998 could get a civics lesson on the subsequent push for hate crimes prevention.  “It’s not talked about in U.S. history. It should be,” Chih said. (SacBee 5/23/06)

As Chih states, it’s not about any agenda.  It’s about giving LGBT students the opportunity to thrive in educational settings.  Health classes just don’t cover enough. LGBT students are far more likely to attempt suicide and generally have lower grades. This law will help LGBT youth deal with the coming out process and the questioning that comes during adolescence in addition to promoting tolerance. 

SB 1437 Misconceptions: The LA Times & Bill O’Reilly

Last week the Senate approved SB 1437 and sent it on to the house in a party line vote.  The bill has upset many, many on the right and some in other postions on the political spectrum.  But this is mainly because they don’t really get it. 

The LA Times doesn’t really get it when they say:

Under her proposal, textbooks would have to “accurately portray in an age-appropriate manner the cultural, racial, gender and sexual orientation diversity of our society.” They also would have to include “the contributions of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to the total development of California and the United States.”
Instead, under Kuehl’s proposal, books would recount history in part through a gay and lesbian prism. This is as misguided in its way as the state Board of Education in Texas two years ago insisting that middle-school textbooks define marriage as the “lifelong union between a husband and wife,” which, aside from its anti-gay slant, chose to ignore the existence of divorce.
California already has among the strongest social studies curriculums in the nation and is considered a model for its balanced and comprehensive approach to history lessons….The commission should be allowed to do its job without interference from legislators. And Kuehl should return to the kind of worthwhile legislation, on such issues as family leave, for which she is justly known.(LA Times 5/9/06)

But this misses the greater point.  This bill only adds LGBT Californians to a long list of minorities.  Somehow the curriculum commission has managed to keep California a leader in curriculum despite the earlier meddling that requires similar inclusions of various races and national origins. Sen Kuehl responded in a letter to the Times:

You fail to mention that the bill would amend two sections of current law that protect many other categories of students. To this we add gay and lesbian people. The law prohibits the adoption of official teaching materials that reflect adversely on people because of their race, sex, disability, nationality and religion. To this we add sexual orientation and gender.

The invisibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the history curriculum only exacerbates school climates in which homophobic bullying, harassment and violence are rampant. Studies show that a bias-free and inclusive curriculum fosters tolerance, resulting in greater feelings of student safety and less bullying. The idea behind SB 1437 is not a new or a radical one. SB 1437 simply would add our community into existing sections of the law.(LA Times 5/13/06)

This law merely adds LGBT Californians to the list.  If you think that the law in general should be done away with…well, I see the logic.  But merely to deny LGBT citizens, is there a reason other than homophobia for that?

But I can tolerate the Times’ position: I can see that they tried logic, but didn’t quite survey the whole backstory.  However, Bill O’Reilly and the wingnuts, well that’s a different story.  I included in my previous posts about SB 1437 some of the crazy things that Thomason and the gang are saying.  Stuff like (No link, as I don’t really like linking to homophobes and racists, but you can find the campaign for “children and families” if you really like hate-filled rhetoric):

As a result, several school activities will be deemed to “reflect adversely” on transsexuality, bisexuality, and homosexuality:

  * School proms (Prom “kings” and “queens” could not be gender-specific)
  * Gender-specific sports (“Boys Basketball” would be “discriminatory” against transsexuals)
  * Cheerleading (Can you say “transsexual cheerleaders”?)

Uh, well, it looks like they have a huge issue with transgendered students.  I mean that’s ok, because the trial of Gwen’s murderers has been over for what…7 months?  I mean nobody ever gets hurt by a little homophobia, right? (R.I.P. Gwen)  And would a school even have a right to stop transgendered cheerleaders even without this law? No, there are already male cheerleaders.  This law does NOT outlaw all recognition of gender in our schools.  It merely requires the curriculum to reflect the contribution of LGBT citizens and to ensure that the LGBT community is not disparaged.

Does this mean we have to rewrite history? Of course not, we are still teaching about the Nazis right?  Mussolini, Stalin, the Incquisition…they are all still in the curriculum, even though they may reflect adversely upon Californians with a national origins of their respective countries. 

But Bill O’Reilly thinks that students can’t learn about Jeffrey Dahmer (is he really a huge area of study for today’s students?) because that would reflect adversly upon gay men:

O’REILLY: Well — and also, if you are a teacher, what are you — you’re not going to be able to say bad things about Jeffrey Dahmer? He’s a cannibal, a gay cannibal, and you can’t say, “Well, that’s wrong.” I mean, if what you’re saying is true, teachers would not be able to cast aspersions on even villains if they were homosexual.

MALKIN: Yeah, that’s right. And in any case, I think school teachers in California and everywhere else ought to be paying more attention to whether or not third graders can find, oh, Sacramento or Washington, D.C., on a map than what the sexual orientation is of historical figures in America. (Media Matters 5/9/06)

Um, yeah, Dahmer reflects adversely on homicidal skizophrenics, not gay males.  Does Ted Bundy reflect adversely on straight males; do we think less of all straight men because of him?  Not so much, eh?  Perhaps Bill O and his crowd can figure out that people should be judged on their own merits, not on the basis of some homophobic opinion.  But, I guess that’s all part of why Sen. Kuehl is pushing this law.

And, yeah, that’s Michelle Malkin just buying into his crap.  Surprise, surprise.  Watch the Video over at Media Matters.

SB 1437 passes Education Committee

Straight (pun intended) from the SacBee’s wires, SB 1437 has come out of the committee today:

Written by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, and sponsored by Equality California, SB 1437 attempts to create bias-free curriculum and school activities by adding sexual orientation to the state Education Code’s list of protected categories.(SacBee 5/3/06)

I’ve written several posts about 1437.  One reacts to Dan Walters and the other is an extended memorandum about the bill (in PDF).  I probably don’t need to go into any more detail about my opinions on the matter, but I always enjoy mocking Randy Thomason and point out what an utter failure he is:

Kuehl said her bill seeks to acknowledge the contributions of people in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in future school textbooks as a way to foster acceptance.

Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families, said the bill would require textbooks to portray those lifestyles in a positive context and interferes with parental instruction.

Dozens of people, particularly from Sacramento’s Russian community, lined up to speak in opposition of the bill.

The Senate Education Committee voted 8-3 along party lines. The bill will now go before the full Senate for a vote.

So, Randy fails yet again to deliver his hate-filled agenda.  Just so you know, the bill requires textbooks only to go so far as to include contributions of the LGBT community.  It essentially just adds the LGBT community to a list of minorities.  Toleration is a value we all should embrace, but Randy prefers to hate.  Time is passing the hatemongerers by, and California is on the front edge.  Congrats to Sen. Kuehl.

Dan Walters on SB 1437

Sheila Kuehl’s SB 1437 adds the LGBT community to a laundry list of other minorities in an education code section that bans treating these minorities adversely in the curriculum.  It bans this adverse treatment in textbooks and day-to-day teaching.  The list includes race, gender, national origin amongst others.  Finally, it also includes “role and contribution” of the LGBT community along with other minorities in social sciences classes.

Dan Walters brings up a counter point: when we legislate on these matters we put ourselves on a slippery slope to, well, Holocaust denial?

To  date the list singled out for mandatory attention are “men and women, black Americans, American Indians, Mexicans, Asians, Pacific Island people and other ethnic groups” while another section of state school law bans instruction “which reflects adversely upon persons because of their race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin or ancestry” and still another prohibits textbooks or other materials “reflecting adversely” on the same grounds.

Essentially, therefore, students must be told about certain groups, but cannot receive any instruction deemed to be negative, which is why, for instance, the Hindu American Foundation is now suing the state to block printing and distribution of new sixth-grade textbooks that are, the group maintains, demeaning to Hindus. Specifically, the foundation doesn’t like the textbooks’ depiction of women’s historically inferior status, the treatment of “untouchables” in the Indian caste system and the theory that Aryan migration played a major role in Indian cultural development.

  Implicitly, the suit is telling state officials that the textbooks must be altered to reflect the Hindu American Foundation’s version of the ethnic group’s history – regardless of what that history may truly be. (SacBee 4/24/06)

Ok, I see how this could actually lead to holocaust denial.  It is a poorly drafted bill in that there is no exception for teaching factual history events.  Does teaching about the Holocaust “reflect adversely” against Germans?  Well, obviously, the answer has to be yes.

So, how do we separate the theory and the practice? Is there some arbitrary standard?  Is it the same as a libel standard in court?  I think the resolution to the Hindu suit will go a long way in determining what these laws really mean.  I think ultimately, there is a place where we are teaching historical fact while still striving to promote a balanced curriculum.

Walters also criticizes the “role and contribution” legislation, but I think this represents at least part of the compromise.  We need to teach history, but if we teach our students not only about the Holocaust, but also about Germany’s advancements and contribution to society, we help decrease hostile feelings. 

But Walters wants to draw a line and not pass 1437.  I agree with some of his points, but can we really draw that line and exclude the LGBT community simply because they are controversial?:

The Legislature’s dictating cultural propaganda of any kind to be distributed in the classroom is troubling. It’s troubling when the cultural identification is homosexuality, and it’s troubling when – as another legislative bill this year would require – the group singled out for special attention is Italian American.

I think the answer is no.  If we are to retain the other legislation banning “reflecting adversely” with the other groups, we must pass 1437. 

Walters chooses the blunt sword, cutting all the legislation. (“It’s a slippery slope, down which California probably has slid too far already.”)  However, perhaps we should do some serious thinking about how we can help reduce discrimination in adults through our education system.  Reform is possible, but ignoring the issue just abdicates an opportunity to improve the state.

SB 1437: Taking Homophobia Out of the Classroom

Senate Bill 1437 was passed from the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 5, 2006.  The bill bans discrimination in school textbooks based upon sexual orientation.  Further, it encourages the inclusion of LGBT contributions when students learn about contributions of other minorities.  The Bill has become very controversial amongst the state’s conservatives and evangelical Christians.

This bill is a good idea.  I wrote a paper about it that is now available online.  Click here for the paper.  Enjoy!