Don Bauder 9:40 p.m., May 21
Senate Bill 48, recently signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, mandates that gays, lesbians, and the transgendered be included into historical accounts of California and the United States. "At last," commented California Teacher's Association President Dean Vogel, "the contributions of homosexuals and others to the great rainbow quilt that is American history will be recognized."
Vogel stressed that the inclusion was not simply political window-dressing, but a crucial element in understanding America today in light of its gaily-colored past. "Today's youth already know what's gay - musical theater, hairdressing, short shorts on men, etc. But what they don't know is why, or when. This can create all sorts of harmful confusion. How are they to understand the existence of a straight guy like Irving Berlin in the gay world of theater without also knowing about the tremendous influence of the later and much gayer songsmith Cole Porter? What will they make of Warren Beatty's turn as a straight hairdresser who seduces his female clients in Shampoo unless they know about Jean-Pierre Barda? And what about vacationing straight men from Eastern Europe - fat dudes covered in body hair and lounging about the beaches of La Jolla in Speedos? A confused young student might mistake them for bears, with disastrous consequences."
Commenting on the Teachers' Association support for the measure, Vogel noted that "we have a long history of supporting curricula that addressed the common values of society, that promote respect for diversity and cooperation. Ideas that prepare the learned to compete in and cope with complex society. We see this very much in the same vein. Education is about bringing clarity to a person's worldview, and a thorough introduction to homosexuality's contribution to culture is essential to providing that clarity. Do you know there are some people out there who don't know how gay 300 was?