Public schools

LGBT History Education Coming to Calif. Schools

Drink your Harvey Milk.


Harvey Milk
Telling Pictures

Special pleading or valuable knowledge about America's history? Or is that a false choice? Can we acknowledge that legal and cultural conflicts about how to treat gay and lesbian citizens are an important and teachable part of modern American history while still maybe rolling our eyes a little bit at the lobbying to force it into public schools?

On the one hand, public schools are struggling to teach the kinds of things students really need to make their way in the world. On the other hand, these issues are still heavily influencing the platforms for both the Democratic and Republican parties. To not teach about the history of current political movements that have shown lasting presence is itself a form of pandering to a particular mindset.

California has decided it's going to incorporate gay and lesbian issues into history and sociology education. Legislators already passed a law to mandate more inclusion in education all the way back in 2012. Now they're figuring out how. Ah, the speed of public education. The Los Angeles Times notes:

LGBT content will be included in some elementary, middle and high school grades. In fourth grade, for example, students would learn about "the emergence of the nation's first gay rights organizations in the 1950s," the framework states, as well as struggles in California from the 1970s to the present day to affirm the right of gay people to teach and to get married.

Equality California, an LGBT advocacy group, issued a statement praising the move, saying the new framework more accurately represents figures important to the LGBT movement.

The new guidelines, the group added, now better captures "essential moments in the struggle for equality, and the evolution of communities and identities." Equality California said a more inclusive curriculum will make LGBT students more comfortable in school.

That at the end from Equality California is where the feeling of special pleading comes in. The goal should be for students of all types to understand history and how it got them to where they are now. That it makes students "more comfortable" shouldn't be a goal of the education process. It's a positive outcome—a side effect. In fact, I would argue that truly accurate teaching of gay political history should at some points cause the opposite. It was not "comfortable" living through some of this stuff.

As an unintentionally amusing footnote, the L.A. Times notes that the new framework for adding more subjects to education includes "financial literacy," in a state school system that is hungrily devouring taxpayer dollars in order to pay for massively growing pension debts. On the fall ballot in November will be a vote to extend a temporary tax increase that was supposed to have fixed state budget issues.

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  1. Can we acknowledge that legal and cultural conflicts about how to treat gay and lesbian citizens are an important and teachable part of modern American history…


    1. Fuck it. I AINT GONNA READ NO MORE!

    1. Definite attempt at a coup in Turkey, unclear if government or military will back down.

      Ostensibly the security services are now supposed to fight the army.

      1. Some sort of coup press conference from the military coming soon, apparently.

  2. “That it makes students “more comfortable” shouldn’t be a goal of the education process. It’s a positive outcome?a side effect.”

    If the study of history and social movements makes you more comfortable, either you’re getting an extremely bowdlerized view of history or you’re a sadistic fuck.

    1. Or a freakin’ Whig historian.

  3. I really look forward to the discussion of how Roy Cohn helped Tail Gunner Joe fight the Commies. And about Joseph Welch’s remarks, during the Army-McCarthy Hearings, about how ” a pixie is a close relative of a fairy.”

  4. To not teach about the history of current political movements that have shown lasting presence is itself a form of pandering to a particular mindset.

    Like they can’t get all that information in YouTube comments. Let’s stick to the Three R’s: Cinco de Mayo, Instagram Selfies and Home Ec.

  5. Coup in Turkey…

    1. Wow! This Military Engaged in a Coup. You Won’t Believe What Happened Next

      1. A junta used this one trick to take over a country.

        1. Top 7 reasons Turkey’s military overthrew the government. Number 5 will shock you.

      2. US involvement?

        1. Is that what happened next? Because I can’t see our government siding with secular fascists against conservative Muslims.

          Hopefully there will be an Erdogexit soon.

    2. For a minute there, I thought the Pope grew a pair and decided to retake the Hagia Sophia as a sop to the Eastern Orthodox Church.

    3. Gabriel Turner, 23, a management consultant from north London, is on holiday in Istanbul and described how there had been heavy police and security presence throughout the day before the military coup got underway after sunset.

      He told The Telegraph:

      “Earlier today there were police everywhere. I thought that was normal but the two Turkish girls I was with told me it wasn’t normal. We were walking around the centre of Istanbul, at the Grand Bazaar there were police at every entrance and exit with lots of guns.

      “A police helicopter was flying very low at sunset, it was about 8pm. It looked like it was searching for something. Later on, at about 10.30 I was in Karakoy, a bar area in the city centre and everyone started looking at their phones. A man who owns the bar told us that the army are taking over everything.

      “Then we walked down towards the a quieter area by the sea. While we were walking, my friend said the army had closed brides across the Bosphorus. We could see army helicopters in the sky.

      “We went inside a cafe and everyone was on their phones looking worried, texting. Lots of people were running to catch a ferry – because the bridges were shutting and people wanted to get home. Then policemen came out of the ferries on their walkie talkies, looking very alert.”

      Niiice, Gabriel.

  6. When they start writing the textbook about Harvey Milk, I hope they include a paragraph about how neither he nor any of the other progressive icons of San Francisco could have been elected without the support of Jim Jones and his People’s Temple. In fact, they could just insert the following paragraph from this Salon article:

    “But no political figures were more gushing in their praise of [Jim] Jones than Willie Brown and Harvey Milk, San Francisco’s rising tribune of gay freedom. Milk, a perennial candidate for office until he finally won a supervisor’s seat in 1977, aggressively sought Jones’s political blessing. “Our paths have crossed,” Milk wrote Jones during an earlier campaign for supervisor, in a letter filled with the kind of awed reverence that the cult leader demanded from his followers. “They will stay crossed. It is a fight that I will walk with you into . . . The first time I heard you, you made a statement: ‘Take one of us, and you must take all of us.’ Please add my name.”

    “Jim Jones’ sinister grip on San Francisco”
    How the Peoples Temple cult leader ensnared Harvey Milk and other progressive icons
    Salon, 2012…..francisco/

    It’s from a Salon article, so it has to be okay.

  7. No twitter, Facebook, or youtube in Turkey.

    1. And no PM links here.

    2. Instagram still up, so not a total loss.

      If the military cut off their Pokemon Go, though…

  8. Can we acknowledge that legal and cultural conflicts about how to treat gay and lesbian citizens are an important and teachable part of modern American history

    Well, since it’s you, and you asked so nicely… just this once.

  9. Yet another issue that could be solved through privatization of schools….

  10. Fruit Sushi with the links again?

  11. You know what would be educational? P.M. links.

  12. Coup at Reason? No PM links?

    1. Fist will be deposed!

  13. Equality California, an LGBT advocacy group, issued a statement praising the move, saying the new framework more accurately represents figures important to the LGBT movement

    For instance, the new history will show that Edward II was deposed because of anti-gay prejudices that permeated Christianity and not because he was an ineffective monarch. See? Accuracy.

    1. Jesus was a virgin birth because Mary was a lesbian?

  14. What do we want?

    PM Links!

    When do we want them?

    Five minutes ago!

  15. Yeah because gays are totally invisible in popular culture. If they don’t teach this in school, how would kids know gays even exist? And the good thing is there are not other more important things for kids to learn and time is not fungible or anything. It is not like there is only so much time and the school day and doing this is time that could be spent on other subjects. And of course everyone knows, the public schools in America are of such a high quality that there really isn’t much improvement that can be made. So what heck.

    1. Now, John, I’m sure the kids in California will learn as much about gay people as they currently learn about math, science and foreign languages!

      “Stonewall, he’s like, that general in World War II, right? The one with the cherry tree?”

    2. It’s not THAT hard (no pun intended) to get enough gay into the curriculum-

      Q:There’s nine gay men in a bath house, four prefer to be on the bottom, three prefer to be on top, and two don’t care. What color are the towels?

      A: Doesn’t matter, everything is pass/fail and the safe spaces aren’t big enough to fail anyone, so just trying earns you a pass. But you earn extra credit if you said that othering towels along color lines should not be tolerated.

      In short, those of us Gen-xers had better hope the robot age comes soon so there’s at least something producing an economy in our old age.

      1. You forgot to include trannies, berdaches, and donkey-show enthusiasts, you cis-gendered asshole.

      2. Retirement assets, i choose you!

        The boomers have already consumed all the seed corn and are rapidly accumulating on the existing host. The offspring can’t be bothered with that whole economy thing. Yup, robots or death.

  16. Drink your Harvey Milk.


  17. legal and cultural conflicts about how to treat gay and lesbian citizens are an important and teachable part of modern American history.

    Honestly, before high school, I don’t see this breaking the plane.

    In high school? Maybe a few hours in history or other courses that it might be relevant to. You’ve got limited real estate in your curriculum. This will have to displace something else. What will they be getting rid of to make room for what is, in all honesty, a footnote in modern American history.

    1. The part where FDR shat on the Constitution?

      Oh wait, they gloss over that part already.

  18. Is this even necessary, especially in CA? I know progressives never push for anything that’s necessary, or not wasteful, or logical, or…

    But you would think that public schools would be so sick of complaints and protests that they would push through new gay/immigrant/gender-malleable curriculum just to shut everyone up.

    1. of course it is necessary. For the indoctrination of goodthink, not useful knowledge.

  19. If government schools would just teach children to read, every book would be a children’s book and they could read history all on their own.

    1. Better yet, end government schools.

  20. It’s the performative nature of things like this that bothers me. I tend to think that what people say and why they say it are often disjoint.

    I’m reminded of the ‘codes of conduct’ that have suddenly sprung up in open source software projects. A surface reading of them must find them unobjectionable. After all, does anyone want there to be discrimination based on race, age, sex, sexual orientation, etc. in open source software? I’m pretty sure that almost no one who contributes to open source projects does (the contributions of members of the Westboro Baptist Church to open source can be counted on one hand by a thalidomide baby [oops- I think I just violated the code of conduct.])

    The thing is, they accomplish nothing worthwhile. They are really about people playing status games, about social signalling, and, more than anything, about tribal warfare. At least they are not mandated by the state…

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