California Becomes The First State To Approve LGBTQ-Inclusive History Books For Its Schools

The state is lifting the veil on the important historical contributions made by LGBTQ people.

The State of California Board of Education was recently looking into a new policy of recommending textbooks that include “fair, accurate, inclusive, and respectful representations” of LGBTQ people. And on Nov. 9, the state approved 10 LGBTQ-inclusive history textbooks for kindergarten through eighth-grade classrooms, becoming the first state in the U.S. to do so.

The new legislation requires the curriculum include contributions made by members of the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities. The new curriculum will also mention the sexual orientations of historical figures who were LGBTQ, where previously it had been omitted.

Photo by Jon Gilbert Leavitt/Flickr.

The state rejected two books because they failed to abide by California’s 2011 FAIR Education Act. The books did not disclose the sexuality of historical figures believed to be LGBTQ, including Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and President James Buchanan. The publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, responded to the rejection by saying, “HMH feels that the terms lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer are contemporary terms that may not map well on past lives and experiences.”

“This long fought victory is the next step for California students to learn about the contributions and history of LGBTQ people,” said Rick Zbur, the executive director of Equality California. “Approval of these textbooks means that California schools will now have access to approved materials that accurately represent LGBTQ people, and Equality California applauds the State Board of Education for this historic decision.”

LGBTQ visibility in textbooks is important because it uncovers the valuable contributions these people have made to society. It also provides role models for young people looking to better understand their sexual orientation. When young people see themselves in history, it’s easier for them to find their place in today’s world.


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