On Thursday, September 29th, the California Department of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) voted to approve 10 History-Social Science K-8 textbooks which were inclusive of the LGBT content mandated by the state’s 2016 History-Social Science Framework. Most were approved conditional upon edits provided by the FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition, a group of LGBT advocacy and educational organizations formed to ensure implementation of the state’s 2012 FAIR Education Act, which requires the inclusion of the political, economic, and social contributions of LGBT people and people with disabilities in California textbooks.
The IQC also voted to reject the two textbooks that did not include the content, and whose corrective edits represented such a substantial portion of the text as to be considered a re-write of content, impermissible at this stage of the review process.
“We are very pleased with the responsiveness of most of the publishers, and with the care the Commission took to abide by the state subject matter Framework and Social Content Standards,” said Carolyn Laub, an educational consultant working with the FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition. Laub, along with Professor Don Romesburg of the Committee on LGBT History and Our Family Coalition’s Education team, helped provide research and analysis of the textbooks.
The group notes, however, that it will keep advocating for changes to one of the recommended textbooks, which continues to fall short of Framework guidelines. “We’re grateful to the IQC and to the majority of publishers involved for taking our concerns into account, but Studies Weekly fails to include reference to Native American ‘two spirit’ people in Grade 4, and continues to exclude LGBT families in Grade 2, both of which are stipulated by the Framework,” says Renata Moreira, Executive Director of Our Family Coalition, a lead organization of the FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition.
“Ensuring that LGBTQ people, families and their contributions to our nation and communities are fully represented is crucial to making sure that students in California schools are safe, accepted and free from bullying,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California, which sponsored the FAIR Education Act in 2011. “It’s one thing to get a law passed, but another to make sure that everyone – from those who publish the materials our children learn from to those who teach that material – understand and live up to their responsibilities under the law.”
The History-Social Science Framework requires that: “Through studying the stories of a very diverse collection of families, such as families headed by solo parents, immigrant families, families with lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender parents and their children, extended families, families with disabled members, families from different religious traditions, and adoptive families, students can both locate themselves and their own families in history and learn about the lives and historical struggles of their peers.”
“We cannot simply offer our students and future generations a few token references; they deserve fodder for rich, critical thinking, that allows them to understand the true diversity of California,” said Moreira.
The IQC recommendations now go to review by the State Board of Education, to be considered and ratified at meetings in November. At that point, the textbooks become approved for purchase by schools statewide.
The FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition is led by Our Family Coalition and includes Equality California, GSA Network, The Committee on LGBT History, Los Angeles LGBT Center, ACLU, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Transgender Law Center, and the Safe Schools Project of Santa Cruz County.