“All men are created equal. No matter how hard you try, you can never erase those words.” -Harvey Milk

A new state law in California is requiring the roles of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals and groups in history to be added to the social studies curricula of the state’s public schools.

The law specifically states:

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, 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.

 

Morgan Reynolds has three books that can contribute to the new material in California’s social studies classes.

Alan Turing by Jim Corrigan in the Profiles in Mathematics series (ISBN 9781599350646)

Alan Turing was responsible for breaking the code of the German Enigma cipher during WWII. His accomplishment helped make it possible for the Allies to eventually win the war.

Corrigan writes, “Mathematician, codebreaker, computer scientist, philosopher, and biologist–Alan Turing was all of these. . . .[He] is widely recognized today as the father of computer science.”

Turing was also gay, and he lived during a time when homosexuality was illegal.

No Compromise: The Story of Harvey Milk by David Aretha (ISBN 9781599351293)

Harvey Milk’s influence helped changed the way America interpreted the Declaration of Independence’s “all men are created equal.”

In 2009, Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama for inspiring a message of hope in a time of turmoil and change.

David Aretha writes, “In the 1970s, Harvey fought for the have-nots and left-outs, especially gays and lesbians. . . . Decades after his death he continues to enter the consciousness of new generations, as gay and lesbian Americans intensify their fight for equal rights.”

No Easy Answers: Bayard Rustin and the Civil Rights Movement by Calvin Craig Miller (ISBN 9781931798435)

Bayard Rustin was the grandson of a former slave and a staunch activist for the civil rights movement. He believed in using Mohandas Gandhi’s practice of nonviolent protesting. But after being prosecuted for being a homosexual, Rustin was abandoned by several members of the civil rights movement. Despite tremendous adversity, Rustin did not give up on the movement, and in fact organized the 1963 March on Washington.

Miller writes, “Today, Bayard Rustin is remembered as a tireless force, a man who gave his life and his work to the cause he so fervently believed in, and who struggled to bear two crosses–being black and being gay–at a time when one was more than enough.”

***

Now that California has voted to include “gay history” in social studies lessons statewide, it may be just a matter of time before other states fall in line to do the same. As has been said thousands of times, first goes California, then goes the nation.

 

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

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Published in: on July 26, 2011 at 3:42 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wonderful post. I was just browsing along when I happened upon this unexpected tidbit. I hadn’t even heard such a thing was on the docket, but having it passed is more than enough of a surprise, even in california. I guess all that remains now is according the Teachers, the people who enable our future, the same respect as our Heroes, those who created our history.

  2. Thank you so much for the kind words! If you want to read more about it, here is a story by NPR: http://www.npr.org/2011/07/22/138504488/california-brings-gay-history-into-the-classroom?sc=emaf


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