Liz Swain 4:24 p.m., May 24
Push Back Against Gays in History Books
Opponents are gearing up for a referendum against SB 48, a measure signed by Jerry Brown on July 13th. The law would revise current requirements that mandate inclusion of “Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups to the total development of California and the United States.” In addition to these groups, Pacific Islanders, people with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans would be added to the list of groups to be considered. A summary and final text of the bill can be found here.
Pacific Justice Institute and Capitol Resource Family Impact, an offshoot of Capitol Resource Institute are leading a coalition that seeks to gather about 505,000 signatures in the next three months so that a repeal initiative can be placed on the ballot next year. Pacific Justice Institute’s website describes the group as “a non-profit 501(c)(3) legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties.” The second group’s site states “The mission of Capitol Resource Institute (CRI) is to educate, advocate, protect, and defend family-friendly policies in the California state legislature and at local government levels.”
Opponents of the bill focus on the inclusion of members of the gay community, saying that contributors to history should be judged based on their work, not their sexual identities. They also say such inclusion would be offensive to families who shun homosexuality for religious or moral reasons.
Another concern is the impact California could have on other states throughout the country. As one of the nation’s population centers, textbook publishers tend to cater to requirements of the school system here, offering the same books for sale in other areas that don’t carry the clout to demand texts tailored to their liking. Similar arguments were lodged in early 2010 when Texas, another large schoolbook buyer, requested amendments to its history texts downplaying the role of Thomas Jefferson, questioning separation of church and state, and positing that the U.S. government was infiltrated by Communists during the Cold War.
The law is slated to take effect January 1, but due to budgetary concerns and time required to revise textbooks, implementation could run through 2015. Unless, that is, the law is brought before the public and rejected by voters.