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09 December 2011

FollowUp 3: California's SB-48

Here we go again.  Social conservatives are again trying to get rid of California's SB-48, The Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act.  I wrote about the details of this law which mandates inclusion and respectful teaching of various minority groups.  There was an attempt to put a repeal of SB-48 on the November 2012 California ballot which failed.

Now Stop SB-48 is trying yet again to put a repeal of SB-48 on the November 2012 California ballot.
Capitol Resource Family Impact along with other pro-family individuals and organizations remain committed to the goal of reversing SB 48, California’s so-called “gay history” bill. Today, a broad coalition of sponsors filed an initiative with the California Attorney General designed to reverse the overreaching aspects of that legislation.
When he signed SB 48 into law this past July, Governor Jerry Brown rationalized his actions with the claim that “History must be honest.” But the bill he signed specifically required an incomplete and inaccurate presentation in all social science classes in our public schools.
No.  That was not just a rationalization.  There is no requirement that history be taught in an incomplete or inaccurate way.
Senate Bill 48 required curriculum that is positive toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other minority figures. But it also prohibited curriculum that reflects adversely on the same groups. The Los Angeles Times condemned the new law by noting, “Real history is richer and more complicated than feel-good depictions.”
No, that's not what the bill says.  It says that texts and instruction shall not contain any matter reflecting adversely upon persons on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, nationality, sexual orientation, or because of a characteristic listed in Section 220.

By way of a parallel example, a text can be critical of a church for instigating a particular war but cannot use that example in a way that reflects adversely upon members of that religion.  In specific, a text can cite the Roman Catholic Church as causing many deaths in the Crusades, but cannot do so in a fashion that reflects adversely on Christians or Catholics.
In contrast, the initiative presented today assures that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other minority figures are not excluded from inclusion in California curriculum while requiring accurate historical portrayals of all individuals.
No.  The initiative to repeal SB-48 removes the requirement of inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender figures as well as Pacific Islanders, persons with disabilities, and other cultural minorities.
Jack Hibbs, one of the sponsors, noted SB 48 simply went too far. “We all know that the issue of homosexuality is controversial. It is unacceptable to require that our schools shine a spotlight on this lifestyle on the one hand and then demand that history books and teachers censor shortcomings on the other.”
This is one of the reasons that SB-48 is so important.  Homosexuality should not be controversial.  People are whatever sexuality they are and it is part of who a person is.  If homosexuality is the course of study, then it is reasonable to look at shortcomings, but that is not what SB-48 is about.  It is about acknowledging that great people in history, like Alan Turing and Oscar Wilde, are presented as whole people including that each was a homosexual.  There is no need to slur homosexuals when talking about individuals who are of that group.
Kevin Snider of Pacific Justice Institute Center for Public Policy believes the proposed initiative provides an appropriate balance. “We drafted an initiative that responds to the perception that some want to ignore the contributions of certain individuals. This initiative prohibits history book exclusion of anybody based on their membership in a protected class. But it requires an accurate, historical portrayal of any individual.”
Accuracy is good.  There is nothing in SB-48 that prevents accuracy.  It prevents a lecture on the supposed evils of homosexuality when discussing historic figures who were homosexual.  Mr. Hibbs and Mr. Snider are upset because they cannot use history as a launching ground for religious-based bigotry in public classrooms.

They will have twice as many times to gather signatures this time as they had in their first petition attempt.  Despite what they say, this is about repeal of a bill that brings fairness and balance into textbooks and into history and social studies curricula.

The State of California has put up an SB-48 FAQ webpage.  I'm sure those who are opposed to equality will not both to read it.  Why let a short page of facts get in the way of a bigoted rant.

12 October 2011, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings post.

23 October 2011, FollowUp 1.

28 November 2011, FollowUp 2.

28 January 2012, FollowUp 4.

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