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California becomes first state to mandate gay history in curriculum

On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the first-of-its-kind bill to include gay history in the California social studies curriculum.

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California Sen. Mark Leno (D) of San Francisco, seen here June 28 at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., sponsored a bill requiring public schools to teach the historical contributions of gay Americans. The bill passed the Assembly on a 49-25, party-line vote on July 5, and was signed into law July 14.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

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California today became the first state to require that school districts include in their social studies lessons the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

“History should be honest. This bill revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books,” said a statement from Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who signed the bill after supporters and opponents endured more than a week of suspense.

The bill, S.B. 48, which passed in the legislature on a mostly party-line vote, drew sharp opposition from some religious groups, who raised concerns that schools were promoting what they call an immoral lifestyle and impinging on parental rights to teach their children about sexual issues.

But supporters hail the law as a breakthrough that will give children a more complete view of history and society – and make California students safer.

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