In the early morning hours of June 27, 1969, after countless police raids on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, gays and lesbians finally fought back. The ensuring three days of bottle-throwing, broken windows and street fighting has gone down in history as the Stonewall riots, and is acknowledged as the important beginning of the gay rights movement.
With the signing of the FAIR Education Act by Gov. Jerry Brown in July, key LGBT historical events like Stonewall may now be included in California textbooks and curriculum. Known as SB 48, the law requires that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, as well as the disabled and Pacific Islanders, be included in social science curricula for their historical contributions to California and the United States. The first of its kind in the nation, SB 48 could mark a sea change in how LGBT people are represented in the classroom.
"I know that as an educator, the more voices that we can bring to our discussion and the more perspectives we can teach kids about enriches their learning and their ability to be in the world," notes Piner-Olivet Union School District superintendent Jennie Snyder. With nine years of experience as a middle-school social studies teacher prior to her entry into administration, Snyder says the FAIR Education Act is in accordance with the goals of history and social science instructors: to teach about current challenges and problems in a historical context. "I don't see [SB 48] as being a conflict; I see it as having the potential for enriching those learning experiences," says Snyder.
Supporters say that the FAIR Education Act brings classroom instruction into alignment with nondiscrimination laws around race, gender and ethnicity that were already adopted by the State Board of Education a decade ago.
"What a student learns about gay civil rights or leaders with disabilities in the curriculum would be developed with input from teachers and parents at the local school district level," notes Rebekah Orr, communications director for Equality California, the San