Gay history now required in social studies classes

Gay history is now required to be taught in California public schools, thanks to a law that Gov. Jerry Brown signed in July.

The law adds lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans to the groups of people social studies teachers need to include in their history lessons.

Reaction to the new law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, is mixed at Fremont Federation of High Schools
“I’m excited that the new law has been passed and how [gay history] is now included because it is an important part of history,” said Sonja Totten-Harris, an English teacher at Media Academy and one of the advisers for the Gay Straight Alliance club at Fremont.

New textbooks with required sections on gay history will not be in the classrooms until 2015, but teachers are still meant to teach the contributions and struggles of gay Americans.

Media History teacher Elizabeth Siarny supports the new requirement.
“LGBT is a legitimate demographic group, [just] like Black Americans, Mexican Americans and Asian Americans. I think it is a valid history that should be heard,” said Siarny.

But not everyone thinks the new law is a good move.

“Gay history shouldn’t be taught because not a lot of people want to learn about it,” said College Preparatory & Architecture Academy senior Latrail White.

Roy Christopher, a CPAA senior, thinks differently. “It will help homosexuals feel more comfortable at school and also have someone to look up to, ” he said. “They won’t feel alienated.”

Media senior Demetria Slay thinks the law could have both positive and negative effects.

“It could make conflicts with some parents because they may not be comfortable talking about LGBT,” said Slay. “But it is good in a way. LGBT [students] won’t get bullied.”