The long-term affects of steroids are obviously kicking in. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reportedly will veto a bill passed by the Senate and pending in the Assembly to revise California's school curriculum to include the contributions of gays and lesbians to the state and nation, a gubernatorial spokesman said Wednesday.
"The governor believes that school curriculum should include all important historical figures, regardless of orientation," said Schwarzenegger's director of communications, Adam Mendelsohn. "However, he does not support the Legislature micromanaging curriculum."
So, Schwarzenegger basically wants to keep gay historical figures in the closet. This is an age where gay children are more likely to commit suicide, thanks, in part, to the governor's party, which keeps telling these kids that they are worthless sinners.
These children should know that people just like them have made tremendous contributions to the world. Their straight peers should learn that gay people are not a recent political phenomenon, but some of the most successful and meaningful contributors to world history. Only such information can break down stereotypes and lead to greater understanding. The governor is making a grave mistake that will hurt all students in California who deserve an honest education, not one whitewashed by the California GOP.
Several decades ago, he probably would have vetoed black history also for the same lame reasons. Hopefully when this son of a nazi (literally) is out of office, the inclusion of gay history will pass. Das Obst faellt nicht weit von dem Baum! (The fruit doesnt fall far from the tree).
posted by Anonymous, at
5/25/2006 11:53 AM
Growing up, I though that I was the only person in the world attracted to the same sex. Only much later did I learn that some of my heros (e.g. Alan Turing) were also gay.
The right tries so hard to just pretend that gay people don't exist, and all it does is make life miserable for those of us who are.
posted by Anonymous, at
5/25/2006 12:28 PM
I don't know you guys. I'm sure if I went down in history I would not want my sexuality being discussed. I don't think it really matters. Do we write in the text books about JFK's infidelities. Or how about Clinton's conduct. Where does the line get drawn. So and so was a great civil rights leader who was into S&M and he was a bottom???
posted by mary, at
5/25/2006 1:51 PM
I seldom find any argument made by the religous right to have much merit. But this latest bill, and their reaction, has given me reason to reconsider it.
Current law says that you cannot be critical of homosexuality in a classroom setting. And I support that. It is truly arrogant and cruel to say harmful things to kids in school about their orientation.
However, this has always been fairly balanced. A teacher couldn't say "homosexuality is sin" but they also didn't take positions that were in direct opposition to the beliefs of Christians.
I don't agree with the religous teaching of anti-gay churches. But I also believe that they have a right to those teachings.
Further, I believe that a school is not the right setting to take a position on the validity of dogma. Especially when there may be a large majority of students who share those beliefs.
If signed, in effect what the schools would be teaching is "homosexuals make great contributions to our society" and would disallow any contrary position such as "homosexuals cost our society in areas of morality and health". While I think the first position is true and the second false, it bothers me to have a legislature dictate that the schools will champion one position and disallow the other.
I am not a believer in the idea that my enemies must be destroyed without mercy. And I find it ironic that many who advocate for a sympathetic and not-violent approach to wars against other countries can sometimes be the first to argue for total anihilation of their opponents in the culture war.
I opposed the efforts of the religious right when they tried to pass "no endorsement of homosexuality in schools" laws. But I think the religious right is entitled to try and sell their views without our passing "full endorsement of homosexuality (and it really kinda is) in schools and disallowment of any contrary viewpoint" laws.
This bill has bothered me since it's inception. I wonder if I, a gay man, would sign this bill if I were governor. I'm not certain.
But I am completely convinced that you can veto this bill without being a bigot. And I wish our community was willing to see that.
Timothy, when you speak of respecting the "beliefs of Christians", which Christians are you talking about? Many Christians fall on the pro-gay side. But it's obvious that you're talking about the religious right. Timothy, when you've become tired of being a gay man who carries water for those on the other side, please let us know. We need you in the gay rights movement!
posted by Matt W., at
5/25/2006 5:09 PM
"If signed, in effect what the schools would be teaching is "homosexuals make great contributions to our society" and would disallow any contrary position such as "homosexuals cost our society in areas of morality and health". While I think the first position is true and the second false, it bothers me to have a legislature dictate that the schools will champion one position and disallow the other."
Your comparison makes no sense. the two are not contrary positions. One is historical fact the other is bigoted theory. Discussion of a gay historical figure is simply factual. Discussion of a theory that gay people are a social ill is just that a theory; a contentious one at that.
Why must history be kept in the closet? Should not our schools champion the truth in the light of day?
Is not the religion of historical figures mentioned in schools?
Of course it is. From the pilgrims to President Regan, Christian and other religious figures are well known in the classroom.
Representing gay historical figures who have achieved greatness is not full endorsement of anything other than avocation of telling a more complete history of this diverse country and the world at large.
Matt W seems only to see things in terms of "our side" and "the other side". Sorry Matt, it isn't that easy.
Sure the wacky fundies think in terms of "culture war", but those of us who like to use our brains in making our decisions don't have the luxury of supporting something just because the other "side" doesn't like it. We have to make decisions based on what is right, not what our enemy doesn't like.
And surprise, Matt, just because something may seem to favor gay people doesn't make it the right thing to do. Fair is better than unfair, no matter which "side" is being treated unfairly.
Incidentally, I'm fairly confident that my efforts for the gay rights movement can stand up to yours.
Sean in Philly:
"Your comparison makes no sense. the two are not contrary positions. One is historical fact the other is bigoted theory. Discussion of a gay historical figure is simply factual. Discussion of a theory that gay people are a social ill is just that a theory; a contentious one at that."
You do make a good point. And perhaps I did not use effective comparisons.
But step back a second and view this from the eyes of a parent who sincerely is trying to instill a set of values into their child (whether or not they are values we share).
To simply say "gays make positive contributions in society" and not say "conservative christians make positive contributions in society" does give our "side" (to use matt's words) and unfair advantage.
And to answer your second point, the answer is "no". There is no effort (to the best of my knowledge) to identify the positive contributions of christians to society. Very rarely will a historical figure be discussed in terms of his religion and almost never will a current figure.
The pilgrims are discussed along religious lines because of the historical significance of their religion - it's why they came here. But I really doubt that many school kids know much about Ronald Reagan's faith... he hardly ever attended church and I have no idea what denomination he was or what he particularly believed on this or any other issue (though his daughter, Patty Davis, says he was far from homophobic).
I think it is absolutely important to include sexual orientation in discussing the lives of those who have contributed. For example, it absolutely should be discussed in literature class that E.M. Forster was gay, and that there is speculation that Shakespear was as well. Western History should include the sexuality of Alexander the Great. And I think that gay rights is THE important current events issue and is relevant in any social studies class.
But it srikes me as propaganda to say "Gay people make wonderful contributions. Oh, and you're not allowed to respond to that statement in any way other than positive". It isn't just "factual" but it is an attempt to sway the thought of the kids.
We don't need thought protection. I believe that our values stand on their own without a problem. We stand for equality, freedom, scientific observation, and tolerance. Those who oppose gay equality stand for special priveledge, restrictions, myth, and intollerance.
But this sort of bill gives them ammunition in their claim that "liberals" and "activists" are trying to brainwash their children. And I'd rather not make their frantic and paranoid proclamations come true.
(however, admitedly, I am not convinced 100% that the bill is a bad idea.... I'm just not convinced yet that it's a good one)
posted by Anonymous, at
5/25/2006 6:56 PM
In discussing Reagan, I should have said "...what he particularly believed on this or any other RELIGIOUS issue..."
Timothy, To my knowledge this bill revises an existing bill that covers such groups as handicapped and racial groups. By your logic we should strip out talk of "wonderful contributions" from historic figures that are mexican or black or bound to a wheelchair. What's the difference? (and the argument that gay is not like race, its "behavior" holds no water. What is religion if not a set of beliefs and "behaviors").
Furthermore, I beg to differ but positive examples of Christian figures are represented in public schools. You mean to tell me that Bush and the rise of the religious right are not discussed in social studies classes today?? I certainly remember Reagan and the RR discussed in my time in High School.
It is true that public schools can not PROMOTE a particular religion, but it is NOT true that religion and religious figures and their contributions can not be discussed; and discused in a positive light. And in most public schools they are in deed discussed - you confirm that with you comments about pilgrims (historical context is appropriate and would be as well in any discussion about gay figures).
However gay people are rarely if ever discussed or acknowledged. When they are it is usually negative. This is contrary to everything that education and is about. How can we claim to live in a free society while a substantial segment is ignored at best?
Nonetheless, I may be reading something wrong but here is a quote from the California Senate website:
"SB 1437 would make technical revisions to the language of several Education Code provisions related to discriminatory content of textbooks and instructional material. The "technical revisions" consist of changing certain words in the statutes to conform to other statutes that address discrimination on the basis of certain characteristics. Thus, "race," "color," "national origin," and "ancestry" would be replaced by "race or ethnicity" and "nationality," "sex" would be replaced by "gender," "handicap" by "disability," and "creed" would be replaced by "religion." Added however would be "sexual orientation.""
Maybe I misunderstand, but is seems religion is in fact PROTECTED under the existing bill, but orientation is NOT!
"But step back a second and view this from the eyes of a parent who sincerely is trying to instill a set of values into their child (whether or not they are values we share)."
It is not the responsibility of public schools to instill, validate or even avoid invalidating some particular set of values that some random parent believes that the local public school should back him up on. Does that mean no values at all? of course not.
What it does mean is that the accepted value of non-discrimination should be honored - even for "the gays". Furthermore fundamentalists do not have the Special Right to claim that if the are not allowed to discriminate against gays because of their religion that they then are being discriminated against. Sorry if they can make that argument then I can kick out my divorced tenant because being divorced is against my Catholic religion and if you don't allow me to discriminate against divorcees them you must be discriminating against me, right?! (HA HA, see how convoluted the RR's arguments are!!).
Anyway, Republicans are great at telling welfare mothers to take responsibility. Well it is high time that they tell the RR to take responsibility themselves and teach religion at home where it belongs - not try to insert it into public schools.
And mind you I am NOT invalidating what I have said earlier as there is a huge difference between discussing religion in the public classroom and promoting it.
As a Catholic, I for one do not want the government teaching religion. The RR insists on small government largely because they screw things up alot. What makes them think that it will get religion right?
In terms of the sexuality of historical figures, I personally believe that context is the big thing. And that's something that's governed by common sense, rather than legislation.
For instance, I happen to know, as a random fact, that Leonardo Da Vinci was a raging poofter. Is it appropriate that I know this? Well, it might have had some genuine context, but since I didn't hear of it while learning that fact, the fact probably should not have been brought up.
In contrast, I know that Socrates was gay, because he was ostracised from Athens due to being gay at an age when he was expected to have "grown out of it". The Greek culture at the time held to the belief that loving other men was natural for a young man, but once a man reached a certain age, he should put all that aside and find himself a woman and raise a family. (No idea what they thought of lesbians. I believe that at the time, women weren't seen as being able to love as deeply as men... Funny how in this day and age the opposite is now considered true...)
Now, I learned *this* fact in context, so I believe it held a great bearing on the issue, and was essential to the discussion. Much like the previous comment regarding the religion of the Pilgrims (I'm not American, so I don't know that story too well, but I know a little).
Another example would be Richard the Lionheart, known affectionately here in Australia as "Dickie the Poof". Most popular monarch in Brittish history, and he married purely because the Spanish Inquisition was hot on his tail (no pun intended) for the henous crime of Sodomy.
I could tell you a lot more about King Richard, but I think you would agree that his sexuality played a significant role in his life, and thus should be mentioned in any historical account. (If any of you have seen Princess of Thieves, it got one thing glaringly wrong... it portrayed Richard as having a son in france named Phillip. Not bl**dy likely. He had a *lover* named prince Phillip of France, but that's not the same thing *at all*... then again, most Robin Hood stories portray Richard as being straight, because it's good for business...)
Okay, this ramble has gone on long enough... I haven't actually read the wording of the new legislation that the Governator is out to veto. If it allows for common sense to reign, then it should be allowed. If it makes a mandatory pretentious comment like "Gay people make achievements in this country too", then it's not so cool...
After all, we all know what happened to the word "special" when it was over-used, don't we? "Everyone's special" gave the word some seriously bad connotations...
As someone who started attending public school in B.V. 1959 (before velcro), I always found it significant tha I never learned anything about the contributions of gays in all areas of culture. Instead, other then the occasional disparaging remark (joke) made by a teacher (high school and college), we weren't mentioned at all. Of course, I learned all about people's lives in far-off countries, and I went through the same notion that I was likely the only person who was gay in the world. . .
When Arnie says that curriculum should reflect the contributions of everyone, regardless of orientation, it means nothing unless he proposes legislation which specifically makes that statement. Otherwise, he's just blowing hot air.
I can remember when there were very, very few representations of ANY minority in social science textbooks - all the way up through high school. We were certainly led to believe that the entire history of western civilization was completely shaped in every way by heterosexual white males.
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