On July 14 the California board of education added LGBT mandates to the state’s new K-12 social studies program, revised for the first time in ten years. This ended a long struggle over school-based Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender studies, playing out for decades inside and outside the state.
The San Francisco Chronicle called the event “a landmark move that puts the ongoing LGBT civil rights fight into the mainstream of public education.”
The newly adopted state curriculum is “not only acknowledging diversity,” commented state superintendent of public instruction Tom Torlakson with customary insight, “but celebrating our diversity as a strength.”
California has had enormous influence on the nation’s history textbooks and curricula in the past. In 2011, after years of debate, state Senate Bill 48, the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Education Act (called FAIR) required elementary and high schools to highlight LGBT issues.
Gay activists, led by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), FAIR’s author, had insisted that censorship and silence perpetuated negative stereotypes of LGBT people and led to increased bullying.
Equality California, an LGBT lobby group behind FAIR, echoes, “by seeing themselves reflected in lessons and materials, students’ experiences are validated and their sense of self-worth reinforced, creating the opportunity for students to be able to achieve academically.” These claims are hard to substantiate but are part of LGBT script.
Bad idea number one: California’s new LGBT lessons start in the state’s elementary schools, in second and fourth grade.
Family diversity is a key curricular theme for California’s second graders. So the framework reads:
Through studying the stories of a very diverse collection of families, such as immigrant families, families with lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender parents and their children, families of color, step- and blended families, families headed by single parents, extended families, multi-generational families, families with disabled members, families from different religious traditions, and adoptive families, students can both locate themselves and their own families …
But where in this eclectic mix are Mom and Dad, you know, married, male and female, living together, functional with children? Even asking the question is a progressive faux pas, I suppose.
The new fourth-grade framework for California state history includes:
the emergence of the nation’s first gay rights organizations in the 1950s. In the 1970s, California gay rights groups fought for the right of gay men and women to teach, and, in the 2000s, for their right to get married, culminating in the 2013 and 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decisions Hollingsworth v. Perry and Obergefell v. Hodges.
The curriculum singles out as an identity hero the gay San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, killed by a madman in 1978.
California has one of the world’s most interesting histories. To abridge the study of Indians or missions, the Transcontinental Railroad, or trade water, oil, and agriculture for LGBT marginalia is a curricular travesty.
LGBT activists wanted more from the state than they got. A 2014 guide plan to FAIR from the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History, a panel of LGBT luminaries sanctioned by the American Historical Association, called for a “transformational approach,” not “minimal compliance.”
The Committee proposes that fourth-graders learn “how settlers and missionaries sought to impose European American concepts of gender and sexuality on Native American societies.” They meet Quanqon, a Kutenai female-to-male person who is said to have assisted Europeans in their explorations of the Oregon Country.
The guide plan makes much of “same-sex intimacies in frontier conditions and the Gold Rush era” and of “transient male laborers who worked in logging, agriculture, and railroad construction.” Singled-out as a study icon is “Charley Parkhurst, who was female-assigned at birth but who lived as a man, operated a stagecoach, stage station, and saloon, and voted as a man in the Bay Area and San Joaquin Valley between 1856 and 1879.”
Fourth-grade is “a great time for critical thinking,” Don Romesburg of Sonoma State University and the Committee’s spokesman declared, “to get people to think about birth-assigned gender” and Gold Rush era cross-dressing.
Is this man kidding or insane? These are ten-year-old children.
Activists of all kinds want a classroom megaphone for themselves. They want uncontested control of one or another narrative, and in California, aggressive leftists have controlled history curriculum development for decades.
Powerful state networks demand that schools strengthen students’ emotional bonds with feminism, black and brown power, LGBT rights, globalism, immigration, and more. Placing designated groups and causes front stage and center, new heroes come out of nowhere, to stand as symbols of victory over the old order, while old heroes are debunked or erased. The study of significant events, ideas, or achievements shrinks to make way for the cultivation of politically correct thought.
Some LGBT activists want to gay up the whole K-12 curriculum, not only history and social studies. It’s part of the progressive “transformational approach” to acceptable thought.
Parents increasingly find themselves pitted against a leftist ruling class that enacts pointed classroom lessons unconnected to what most parents want their children to learn. For many education progressives, if you don’t buy the whole package from Black Lives Matter to Caitlin Jenner’s awakening, you may be a racist, hater, or religious nut.
Put yourself in the shoes of a striving, tax-paying California parent in a “decent” school district. Your frustration is rising and intense. You want to be a “liberal.” But you keep watching the rug being pulled out from underneath your children. You endure any number of classroom programs with overt political agendas. You hate them all.
You realize that lawmakers and state boards are finding it politically impossible to favor or idealize the male-and-female married with children family. Elementary schoolchildren are being taught to minimize, question, or reject time-honored verities, instincts, and family styles.
Second and fourth graders are innocent and asexual. Force-feeding them inappropriate, fatuous lessons they can barely understand is a cultural crime.
If Hillary Clinton’s It Takes a Village-style policies triumph in November, diversity education’s lock on public education is bound to grow tighter.