LGBT studies: first legislate then work out how to teach
Introducing gay-friendly history curriculum is proving to be difficult, note California educators.
Teachers and administrators are flummoxed about how to carry out a new law requiring California public schools to teach all students — from kindergartners to 12th graders — about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans in history classes.
"At this point, I wouldn't even know where to begin," Principal Don Wilson said. And that’s the openly gay principal at Laurel Canyon, California’s Wonderland (I kid you not) Avenue Elementary School talking.
Educators across the state don't have much time to figure it out. In January, they're expected to begin teaching about LGBT Americans under California's landmark law, the first of its kind in the nation. You would think the sensitive, highly-qualified educational experts who promoted and crafted the legislation would be ready, willing and able to give teachers and school boards some assistance in this regard, but it seems most schools have been left hanging.
School districts will have little help in navigating this sensitive and controversial change, which has already prompted some parents to pull their children out of public schools.
Then again, some of these advocates are clearly confused, such as Judy Chiasson, coordinator for human relations, diversity and equity, Los Angeles School Board. (It used to be possible to give children a solid education without the help of a “coordinator for human relations, diversity and equity”, but that was when schools were more interested in literacy and math competence than social engineering, but I digress).
Ms. Chiasson makes the following mystifying observation:
LGBT topics are controversial because people conflate them with sex — and, for religious conservatives, sin. "People sexualize homosexuality and romanticize heterosexuality," she said.
Run that by me again? She’s surprised that people “sexualize homosexuality”? How can you blame us, when the LGBT lobby has, for decades, made sexual orientation and sexual practice their only defining characteristics? As for “romanticizing heterosexuality,” well, hasn’t the whole boy-meets-girl, love-marriage-family thing been inherently romantic for oh, say, several hundred years of human history?
Incidentally, don’t go all cross-culturally “socio-economic history of marriage” on me; I’ve studies history, sociology and anthropology so I know how marriage has evolved over the centuries. Salient point: guys and gals have been getting together through all of human history, and they seem to like it.
What is the new California legislation if not a totally awkward “sexualizing” of history? In other words, making an issue out of the whys and wherefores of any given historical figure’s sexual proclivities, instead of just focussing on his or her individual human achievement.
"I'm not sure how we plug it into the curriculum at the grade school level, if at all," said Paul Boneberg, executive director at the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco. Maybe that’s because it really makes no sense to begin with.
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