Monday, July 25, 2016

California Soon to Be First State to Teach LGBT History in Public Schools

The California State Board of Education has unanimously voted to implement a 2011 state law signed by Governor Jerry Brown that mandates including LGBT history in public school curriculums as early as second grade.

Last Thursday, the board adopted the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools, which will include “the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans and people with disabilities to the history of California and the United States,” according to a press release issued by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

Peter Tira, an information officer for the California Department of Education, told that this new policy will go into effect immediately across elementary, middle and high school social science and history classes.

However, teachers will have to attend several workshops to learn how to include these topics in their lessons.

The board’s goal is to have the curriculum changes in place by the start of the 2016-2017 school year, Tira said. He added that there is a 2017 deadline for school textbooks to include the LGBT content.

California is the first state in the nation to include LGBT history in its public school curriculum, according to Equality California.

Discussions and lessons in the new curriculum will include different family structures, gender roles, California’s role in LGBT history, and the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states in 2015.

“The adoption of this Framework today is an important part of our instructional program,” said board president Michael Kirst.

“Hundreds of people representing broad perspectives contributed to the development of this important tool for teachers and classrooms. The new Framework will help guide classroom instruction at each grade level and will be used with other instructional resources to ensure all students have a broad understanding of history,” Kirst continued.

In addition to LGBT history, the Framework also mandates the inclusion of other minority group history in public school curriculums, such as the “comfort women” in World War II, the Bataan Death March and the battle of Manila, the Armenian Genocide, and discrimination faced by Sikh Americans.

"This is a priority when fewer than three out of 10 kids in California public schools are taught to read proficiently?" asked Randy Thomasson, president of, a pro-family group.

"This anti-family sexual engineering demonstrates how government-controlled schools have replaced academics with political correctness," Thomasson said in a statement.

"Parents with moral values must rescue their children by exiting the government schools for the safe havens of homeschooling and solid church schools" to "escape the mental molestation of 10 state school sexual indoctrination laws teaching sexual lies to impressionable boys and girls," he said.
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D). (AP photo)

Gov. Brown signed the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act into law in 2011, which added “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender the economic, political and social development of California and the United States of America, with particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society” to his state's existing Education Code.

The bill, which went into effect in January 2012, required the inclusion of LGBT history in the curriculum. However, it took years of public debate and a number of revisions to reach a final decision on what that history would include.

According to the Associated Press, budget cuts, competing educational priorities and attempts to overturn the law contributed to its long implementation timeline.

“People are passionate about the way they are portrayed in history,” Torlakson said. “We are glad so many people and groups participated in our lengthy public comment and review process.”

The Pacific Justice Institute drafted a referendum to stop the law from going into effect, but failed to reach the required amount of signatures, according to a 2011 press release.


Schoolboys wear skirts in protest at shorts ban

It's been very hot in Britain lately

Four UK schoolboys found a creative way to stay cool after they were told sports shorts were not part of their uniform – turning to the girls’ uniform rules and wearing skirts instead.

The four Year 9 students from Longhill High School in Rottingdean, East Sussex, were part of a group who were reprimanded for wearing shorts instead of pants to school last Tuesday.

Head teacher Kate Williams said the school had “high standards regarding uniform” and would not condone the rules being “challenged”.

After finding a potential loophole, the boys attended school on Thursday wearing skirts that were part of the girls’ official uniform.

Michael Parker, 14, told The Argus “boys should be able to wear shorts in extreme weather, in the summer”.

His mother Angela Parker told the newspaper the group’s parents were “fully in support of them”.

“I think what the headmistress is doing is discrimination and I’m extremely proud of Michael and his fellow protesters,” she said.

“It’s taken a heck of a lot for teenage boys to go to school wearing skirts.”

The boys vowed to continue their protest the following day, which was the last day of term.

Their story has been highlighted by several media outlets around the world, and they were praised on the Today show’s Sunday Jury this morning.

Sunday Jury guest and radio broadcaster John Stanley said he thought the protest was “fantastic”.

“As long as this doesn’t get looped into the Safe School’s argument...” he said.

Another guest, journalist Tracey Spicer, said it opened up a wider debate about uniforms.

“Girls are often lauded for what are traditionally ‘male’ things, I think it’s great these boys are wearing skirts and not feeling ashamed,” she said.


Australia:  Changes to Senior High School exam in NSW -- including greater focus on Indigenous Australians

There is a vast amount of important things to learn about in  world history -- so why waste time studying Aboriginal history?  They are of no importance to anyone but themselves

The Board of Studies is overhauling the curriculum for Higher School Certificate (HSC) students in NSW, placing a greater focus on Australia and Aboriginal leaders in history, and significantly changing maths and English courses.

President of the Board of Studies Tom Alegounarias said in English courses, the recent tradition of comparing classic texts to modern adaptations will be dropped to allow for a return to a single-text focus.

"We never abandoned the canon but what we did have was frames through which students could study a text, so 'journeys' or 'belongings' were overarching concepts that would be used to create a reference point for kids to help them engage with a text," he said.

"That's seen to be a bit limiting now."

Mr Alegounarias said from now on, he wanted students to have the freedom to focus on "what makes a quality text".

"That may vary from book to book; if it's the subtlety and wit of Jane Austen, then that should be the focus," he said.

In history, there would be a greater emphasis on Australia including Indigenous leaders such as Eddie Mabo and Charles Perkins.

"Those are options for case studies at the beginning of Year 11 where we're introducing to students how to study history," Mr Alegounarias said.

"They're not the central focus of the changes; the central focus is that World War II becomes a core mandatory unit for all."

Maths scaling system to change

The board's president said the scaling system would change for maths students.

"We're creating what we call a common scale, that is we're ensuring that each level of course is on a hierarchy of difficulty and by the time you get to extension two these are really brilliant students," Mr Alegounarias said.

"We're giving them the opportunity to stretch themselves further - it's becoming slightly more complex."

State Opposition spokesman Jihad Dib said he did not think the changes were as significant as they sounded.

"This is what contemporary society would expect - the evolution of the HSC to meet the modern needs of society," he said.

But he questioned the thinking behind dropping the comparative approach in Year 12 English, one that for many years has seen thousands of students study Jane Austen's Emma alongside the 1995 film Clueless.

"In English, I don't think it's such a problem to be able to study the difference between time and place and to compare and contrast," he said.

The former high school principal is also wary of changes to scaling for maths students.

"We have to be careful so we don't set kids up to fail and ask them to choose subjects that they think will get them a better HSC mark regardless of whether they're capable in that subject or not," Mr Dib said.

Earlier this week, the State Government announced that from 2020, students would not be able to get their HSC without first meeting minimum standards of literacy and numeracy.


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