California Mulls Gay History in Textbooks

California is considering a change to the way it teaches history.

The state already requires mentions of the historical roles of women, African-Americans and Asians.

Today the Democratic-controlled state Senate approved a bill that would require social science textbooks to note the contributions homosexuals have made to history. It's apparently the first attempt to pass a law of this kind in the country, and of course it has sparked a furor.

The law is sponsored by one of six openly gay members of the California legislature.

"All we are saying is let us also be reflected in history accurately," Democratic state Senate member Sheila Kuehl said.

The bill would add the contributions of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to the "total development of California and the United States," she said.

Kuehl became a familiar face in the country 45 years ago on the popular television show "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis." She says children should be taught homosexuals are part of life and history.

"You could study James Baldwin's novels and they say James Baldwin was an African-American writer, but they could say he was an African-American gay writer," Kuehl said.

Positive Message or Assault on Free Speech?

The president of a pro-family organization who watched from the state Senate gallery when the bill passed today called this a war on families and children.

"The politicians have forced sexual indoctrination upon kids as young as kindergarten," Campaign for Children and Families president Randy Thomasson said.

Proponents say the bill, which states the material should be age-appropriate, sends an important message to gay children.

"When students see themselves reflected in the curriculum, they feel like they belong at school. They stay at school, and they get an education," said Kevin Jennings of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network.

As one of the largest buyers of schoolbooks, California could influence the content of textbooks in other states, and that worries some conservative organizations.

"This is an assault on the free speech and freedom of religious expression of people who don't approve of homosexual behavior," said Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council.

But before any books will be edited, this gay history bill has to pass the California House and be signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has already vetoed a bill to legalize gay marriage.

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