The Terminator, merely by raising his eyebrows, managed to get the California legislature to back down on a bill that would have required all California textbooks, starting in first grade, to include materials focusing on famous homosexuals — not because of their fame, but because of their homosexuality. Instead, it retreated to something much more intelligent, which is a requirement that children may not be exposed to material that is discriminatory to people based on sexuality:
The state Assembly on Monday gutted a bill that would have required California textbooks to include the historical contributions of gay people, amending it to say only that school material should not be discriminatory toward gays.
Lawmakers voted 56-2 to delete the provision at the request of the bill’s author, Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), who had feared a gubernatorial veto.
Her bill instead would prohibit any negative portrayal of gays in textbooks and other instructional material, expanding current anti-discrimination laws that apply to minorities.
“I’m not really someone who wants to plop something down on his desk for him to veto,” said Kuehl. “I want a signature.”
She said she was upset that Schwarzenegger had taken the unusual step of issuing an opinion about a bill before it reached his desk.
Kuehl said Schwarzenegger chief of staff Susan Kennedy told her privately that the governor “has been getting a lot of heat about your bill when he goes to speak to conservatives. He just doesn’t want to sign it.”
Given that California law, at the behest of myriad special interest groups, currently mandates all sorts of lessons that have little to do with parents’ ideas about learning and lots to do with promoting those same special interest groups, one really can’t blame Kuehl for advancing her own special interest group in the same way. I mean, the situation practically begged for the bill she got passed.
Unlike special interest groups that are based in race or religion, however, Kuehl’s group is tied entirely to sexuality. To the extent that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, etc., would have been placed on the school menu starting at first grade, it would have meant that children as young as six would be getting lessons in nontraditional sexuality. My children are just grappling with traditional sexuality at a very basic biological level. I don’t want them to start exploring the concept of less common sexual behaviors, which would be an inevitable byproduct of such lessons.
Additionally, the bill’s permanent passage would have meant forcing into prominence people who haven’t done anything worthy of such notice aside from sleeping with someone of their own gender. That is, I don’t like starting a class with “So and so is a homosexual and he started his own business.” I’d be much more open to a class that starts “So and So was a famous fighter pilot. During World War II, he shot down 16 enemy planes. What no one realized was that So and So was keeping a painful secret about himself….” And to the extent that secret is sexual in nature, I wouldn’t introduce kids to that secret until 7th or 8th grade. Certainly not 1st or 2nd.
By the way, I don’t think my beliefs about this matter make me a homophobe, because that’s certainly not how I’d characterize myself. I’d be just as distressed if my 1st grader’s lesson about Bill Clinton wasn’t about the fact that he was a President, but that he had oral sex in the oval office. And while you can talk about Clinton without the sex, you can’t do that if you introduce someone because he is homosexual. You have to explain the sexuality and, as a parent, I don’t think that sexuality is an appropriate part of an elementary school curriculum.
In any event, I’m delighted that a glimmer of sanity returned to Sacramento before one more moment of PC pandering was deposited in my childrens’ classrooms.
UPDATE: If you dig deep into the newspaper article I quoted from, you’ll see that the more conservative Republican legislators still believe the bill calls for California’s classrooms to promote homosexuality. I don’t read the amended bill that way. I think it does just add sexuality to the panopoly of things and people that can’t be the subject of derogatory remarks in California classrooms.