Gays… In… History…

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2 Responses

  1. Am I a Bigot? says:

    Just by way of illustration, my view of the relative historical importance of a sampling of individuals goes something like this:

    Harvey Milk < Jim Thorpe < George Washington Carver < Cesar Chavez < Babe Ruth (leftie!) < Sandra Day O'Connor < Martin Luther King, Jr. < Abraham Lincoln

    On the proposal, how far back can the historical gaydar reach? Would speculation about Carver and Lincoln be on the syllabus? Or is the aspiration to just profile the uncloseted gay Americans? (If so, isn't that historically dishonest?)

    If you didn't sound so serious about it, I'd half suspect the goal was to elicit bigoted reactions and not to actually have the bill enacted.

    Finally, I don't pretend to know much about Harvey Milk, but I'm very confused by the "what he died for" suggestion.

  2. A.J. Sutter says:

    Is your question a bit too limited, like Stephen Colbert’s “good President or great President” alternative? Namely, are the grounds you mention the only possible ones for having doubts about the statute?

    Among its affirmative requirements, SB 48 proposes to add the bolded language to Cal. Edc. Code § 51204.5 :

    Instruction in social sciences shall include the early history of California and a study of the role and contributions of both men and women, Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders [current law: "Pacific Island people"] , European Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups, to the economic, political, and social development of California and the United States of America, with particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society.

    Parallel amendments are proposed to be made to Edc. Code § 60400. Some observations:

    (1) Neither Jews nor members of any other religious groups are mentioned. It would be possible to comply with the law without mentioning Jews at all in the California public school curriculum — should we be kvetching? (Though one hopes that the Chumash Native American people may get a shout-out.)

    (Some people might also argue that if, in fact, Jewish Americans do get mentioned in the curriculum, such an explicit statute is unnecessary — though based on historical experience I’m inclined to think this argument could be a red herring for the discrimination you worry about.)

    (2) Might some people object to the statute for vagueness? E.g., does the language imply that bisexual people (as distinguished from gay people and lesbian people) need to be given as much weight as, say, Mexican Americans? And transgender people be given an equal quantum of time as well? Might some people, including members of the various LGBT communities themselves, question the at-least-implicit characterization of LGBT Americans as an “ethnic” or “cultural” group? (Ditto for persons with disabilities.) Might some people be disturbed that one could comply with the law without teaching about any heterosexual Californians whatsoever?

    (3) BTW, Boris Volynov was the first Jew in space (1969 and again in 1976).