It’s hard not to tear up when you watch 14 year old Jamey Rodemeyer talk about being bullied. His contribution to the “It Gets Better” campaign is an eerie reminder that we don’t always know how bad one of our students is hurting until it’s too late. In Jamey’s case, he said he complained about being bullied but no one helped him.
California is the first state in the union to add a component of gay and lesbian history to its curriculum. Advocates are hailing the decision as on par with including sections on other minorities in the curriculum (African Americans, Women, Hispanics, etc). It is also part of a core-curriculum to address bullying in the LGBTQ community.
“This is definitely a step forward, and I’m hopeful that other states will follow,” said Mark Leno, California’s first openly gay state senator, who sponsored the bill. “We are failing our students when we don’t teach them about the broad diversity of human experience.”
“There is an increasing awareness in the public and among elected officials that we have to do something to address the problems of bullying, and the negative consequences” for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, said Carolyn Laub, director of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network.
Still, the decision is not without controversy. Opponents of the addition to the curriculum state that its furthering a ‘homosexual agenda’ in public schools and equate the curriculum change with a legislative form of morality.
“It’s a sad day for our republic when we have the government essentially telling people what they should think,” said Tim Donnelly, a Republican state assemblyman from San Bernadino. Mr. Donnelly said the law prohibited schools from presenting gays and lesbians “in anything other than a positive light, and I think that’s censorship right there.”
As an educator, I think that this is excellent news. We should broaden the perspective and experiences that we present to students as they are developing and coming up with this connected, global community. Additionally, I always find it troubling when lawmakers disagree with providing students information and allowing them to make informed decisions – I also see nothing in the curriculum that requires only ‘positive’ views of homosexual individuals who, like all human beings, are complex creatures with flaws.
To read more about this story, check out the New York Times.