California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.'s office just issued a notice that he has signed SB 48, the FAIR Education Act. Brown has been under intense pressure this past week from both sides.
Openly gay State Sen. Mark Leno, author of the bill, just issued this press release:
Governor Jerry Brown today signed the FAIR (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful) Education Act, authored by Senator Mark Leno. The bill ensures that the historical contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and disabled individuals are accurately and fairly portrayed in instructional materials by adding these groups to the existing list of under-represented cultural and ethnic groups already included in the state's inclusionary education requirements.
Governor Brown today issued the following statement regarding SB 48 by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). Other reactions after the break too.
"History should be honest. This bill revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books. It represents an important step forward for our state, and I thank Senator Leno for his hard work on this historic legislation."
Leno also released a statement in a press release from his office:
"Today we are making history in California by ensuring that our textbooks and instructional materials no longer exclude the contributions of LGBT Americans," said Senator Leno (D-San Francisco). "Denying LGBT people their rightful place in history gives our young people an inaccurate and incomplete view of the world around them. I am pleased Governor Brown signed the FAIR Education Act and I thank him for recognizing that the LGBT community, its accomplishments and its ongoing efforts for first-class citizenship are important components of California's history."
Research indicates that students who learn about LGBT people find their school environments more accepting of LGBT youth. Students are also more likely to report that their LGBT peers are treated fairly at school - and that other types of peer-to-peer disrespect also declines - when LGBT people and issues are included in instructional materials.
In addition to including the role and contributions of LGBT Americans in educational materials, Senate Bill 48 ensures that the contributions of disabled people are included. The bill also adds sexual orientation to the state's existing anti-discrimination protections that prohibit bias in school activities, instruction and instructional materials. The bill is co-sponsored by Equality California and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network.
"Today marks a monumental victory for the LGBT equality movement as the struggle of the diverse LGBT community in California will no longer be erased from history," said Equality California Executive Director Roland Palencia. "Thanks to the FAIR Education Act, California students, particularly LGBT youth, will find new hope and inspiration and experience a more welcoming learning environment."
"I am awed and humbled to be part of this historic moment," said Carolyn Laub, Executive Director of Gay-Straight Alliance Network. "Today, we've written the latest chapter in the LGBT civil rights movement - one that will now be presented fairly and accurately in California schools. By signing the FAIR Education Act and ending the exclusion of the LGBT community from instructional materials, Governor Brown has realized the hopes of youth who have been fighting for safe and inclusive schools, where all students learn about our history and gain respect for each other's differences as a result. This is a part of the American story that we can be proud to know all students will learn."
SB 48 passed the Senate in April and cleared the Assembly earlier this month.
Press release from Equality California and GSA Network, sponsors of SB 48
Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that will fairly and accurately portray the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights movement and the historic contributions of the diverse LGBT community in social science instruction. The Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act (SB 48), by including fair and accurate information about the rich and diverse history of LGBT people in instructional materials, will enrich the learning experiences of all students and promote an atmosphere of safety and respect in California schools. SB 48 was authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and co-sponsored by Equality California and Gay-Straight Alliance Network.
Studies have shown that inclusion of LGBT people in instructional materials is linked to greater student safety and lower rates of bullying. In schools where the contributions of the LGBT community are included in educational instruction, bullying declined by over half and LGBT students were more likely to feel they have an opportunity to make positive contributions at school.
"Today marks a monumental victory for the LGBT civil rights movement as the contributions of diverse LGBT community will no longer be erased from history," said Equality California Executive Director Roland Palencia. "Thanks to the FAIR Education Act, California students, particularly LGBT youth, will find new hope and inspiration and experience a more welcoming learning environment that will embrace them."
Palencia added, "For decades, LGBT leaders have worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for all Californians. LGBT leaders were involved in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, the farm workers' movement, the women's movement, have built health and human services institutions that now serve millions of Californians, and have contributed to the economic development of our state. We are truly grateful for the courageous leadership of Senator Leno, the LGBT Caucus, allied lawmakers, our members, and the entire LGBT community for making history and for promoting safety in our schools as students learn about our rich legacy."
The FAIR Education Act will bring classroom instruction into alignment with existing non-discrimination laws in California and would add the LGBT community to the existing list of underrepresented cultural and ethnic groups, which are covered by current law related to inclusion in textbooks and other instructional materials in schools.
"I am awed and humbled to be part of this historic moment. Today, we've written the latest chapter in the LGBT civil rights movement -- one that will now be presented fairly and accurately in California schools," said Carolyn Laub, Executive Director of Gay-Straight Alliance Network. "By signing the FAIR Education Act and ending the exclusion of the LGBT community from instructional materials, Governor Brown has realized the hopes of youth who have been fighting for safe and inclusive schools, where all students learn about our history and gain respect for each other's differences as a result. This is a part of the American story that we can be proud to know all students will learn."
"Today we are making history in California by ensuring that our textbooks and instructional materials no longer exclude the contributions of LGBT Americans," said Senator Leno "Denying LGBT people their rightful place in history gives our young people an inaccurate and incomplete view of the world around them. I am pleased Governor Brown signed the FAIR Education Act and I thank him for recognizing that the LGBT community, its accomplishments and its ongoing efforts for first-class citizenship are important components of California's history."
"There is no room for discrimination of any kind in our classrooms, our communities or our state," said Dean E. Vogel, president of the California Teachers Association. "We believe that curricula should address the common values of the society, promote respect for diversity and cooperation, and prepare students to compete in, and cope with a complex and rapidly evolving society. SB 48 does that by helping to ensure that curricular materials include the contributions of persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans to the development of California and United States."
Among the diverse supporters of the FAIR Education Act include: Adolescent Health Working Group, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Anti-Defamation League, Arc and United Cerebral Palsy in California, Asian Americans for Civil Rights & Equality, Asian/Pacific Islander Youth Promoting Advocacy & Leadership, California Language Teachers Association, California Psychological Association, California Teachers Association, California Faith for Equality, Californians for Disability Rights, Inc., City of Oakland, City of West Hollywood, Disability Rights California, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Unified School District, Public Advocates, San Francisco Unified School District, Transgender Law Center, California Church IMPACT, Our Family Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Fresno County Democratic Central Committee, San Joaquin Valley Democratic Club, The Trevor Project, School for Integrated Academics & Technologies, and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund.
Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation. Equality California has passed more than 70 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org
Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network) is a national youth leadership organization that empowers youth activists to fight homophobia and transphobia in schools by training student leaders and supporting student-led Gay-Straight Alliance clubs throughout the country. In California alone, GSA Network has brought GSA clubs to 56% of public high schools, impacting more than 1.1 million students at 850 schools. GSA Network's youth advocates have played a key role in changing laws and policies that impact youth at the local and state level. GSA Network operates the National Association of GSA Networks, which unites more than 30 statewide networks of GSA clubs throughout the country. GSA Network is also the founder of the Make It Better Project, which aims to stop bullying and prevent suicide. www.gsanetwork.org
From Shannon Minter, Legal Director for National Center for Lesbian Rights
This is a major turning point for our movement. California is the first state to mandate inclusion of accurate information about LGBT people and history in public classrooms. This will change the future for LGBT youth and their families in ways that are just as important and far-reaching as marriage equality. For the first time, LGBT children and youth in California will have the experience of being affirmatively included and supported in school.
EQCA's Roland Palencia also sent out emails of thanks to those who helped spread the word, reprinted here with permission.
I want to thank our Communications staff and all those in the LGBT and ally communities who worked on this bill for many months and helped to mobilize people to contact the Governor's office to create awareness about the historical importance of the FAIR Education Act. On my second week, I also want to pay a tribute to the previous leadership of Equality California, as this is part of their legacy.
This is a watershed moment for the movement, as it will help to break the spell that they have over us: that we are bad for children and youth. Instead, this will point to the real culprit: harassment, discrimination, prejudice and invisibility that has done so much harm not only to our youth, but also to those who are seen as different. An even better, it will be proactive, as it will teach about the rich and diverse contributions of our LGBT civil rights movement. Mil Gracias,
And he sent this to former EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors:
This is a tribute to your leadership and to your legacy.
From the LA Gay & Lesbian Center
Despite pressure from anti-LGBT extremists, Governor Jerry Brown stood up for truth and accuracy in education by signing into law Senator Mark Leno's Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act. The passage of FAIR Act (SB48) means that California schools must no longer exclude the historic contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
In response to this important victory, L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center CEO Lorri L. Jean issued the following statement:
"We've seen it over and over; too many LGBT youth are harassed and bullied in schools at the hands of those whose fear and hate stems from ignorance about LGBT people.
It's vital that all students learn about the great LGBT trailblazers who went before them--many of whom have been inexcusably closeted by our history books. When all students learn about the work and lives of such notable figures as Barbara Jordan, Bayard Rustin, Alexander the Great, Tennessee Williams, Walt Whitman, Billie Jean King and so many others, they should understand the historical context of their accomplishments, including how their sexual orientation or gender identity informed their work and shaped their character.
Right-wing extremists will crow that teaching children that LGBT people exist, and always have, is some type of 'indoctrination', but in fact it just means they're learning the truth. And that is what education is all about. Governor Brown, thank you for standing up for all of our state's young people by ensuring they are given accurate information, and not an incomplete version of history that erases the contributions of LGBT people.
The Center is working with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to make our public schools safe and welcoming for today's young LGBT people. Giving students accurate, fairly presented information about LGBT people who have shaped history is another important part of making their lives better."
Last month, the Center and LAUSD held a summit to develop a plan of action for fighting LGBT youth suicide and reducing homophobia in the nation's second-largest school district. The initiative, called Project SPIN (Suicide Prevention Intervention Now), is also supported by many community partners.