Gay Americans would be included in California textbooks under a proposed bill requiring schools to buy books that “accurately” portray “the sexual diversity of our society,” the San Jose Mercury News reports.

More controversially, it could require that students hear history lessons on “the contributions of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to the economic, political, and social development of California and the United States of America.”

California buys more textbooks than any other state, so what California wants all states tend to get.

State education code already requires inclusion “of the historical role and contributions of members of ethnic and cultural groups,” notes the Merc. There are lots of mentions of women and minorities to balance out those white male founding fathers, presidents and generals.

(Karen) England (director of the Capitol Resource Institute) says she doesn’t really care, because a person’s contribution to history doesn’t hinge on sexual orientation.

“I don’t care if, or who, whatever historical figure they want to say is gay,” England said. “If we’re discussing history, who someone had sex with is inappropriate. I don’t think most Californians want history and social sciences taught through the lens of who in history slept with whom.”

I hadn’t known that the author of “America the Beautiful,” Katharine Lee Bates, was gay. There’s a classic twofer mention: female and gay. And irrelevant.

Darren has a long post on this, arguing again that young people should be encouraged to take pride in their accomplishments, not in their membership in a group in which other people have accomplished something in the past.

About Joanne


  1. Thanks for the link!

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Will those textbooks include the fact that one in five homosexual males has AIDS?
    Will they teach that part of the freedom “Gays” demand is the freedom of multiple, anonymous coupling?

  3. Walter, I called you on this on my own blog and I’m going to call you on it here.

    Can you provide any reasonable substantiation for your claim that 20% of gay men have AIDS? Any at all?

    As for “multiple, anonymous coupling”, at least you took out the “unprotected”, which you had in there on my blog. Heterosexual people enjoy multiple coupling as well–my grandmother used to refer to it as “sowing his wild oats”. And gays, like straights, already have the right (is it a *right*?) to “couple” with whomever they want.

  4. First of all – why should we care who was gay and who was not among historical figures? Pre-Stonewall, most people who were gay were very closeted – many of them probably wouldn’t have thought their orientation would be an issue to be discussed in textbooks.

    Second – there are some historical figures that you DON’T KNOW FOR SURE. There are debates that rage about certain figures – there are other people who assume anyone who didn’t marry (or who married but had no children) was crypto-gay.

    And frankly? I don’t CARE what famous people from the past were gay. All I care about was what they did (not WHO they “did.”)

    I understand the desire to “raise self-esteem” by saying “look, this important person shares something in common with you” but I fear that it’s also adding to the increasing fragmentation of society. Surely we can celebrate the achievements of people who are “not like us” for whatever reason, and we don’t have to do quota-ing?

    I mean, at its most laughable extreme, we ignore merit of accomplishments in favor of some pigeonhole (or purported pigeonhole, for many of the “famous people we think might have been gay”) to fit people into. And isn’t that in its own way discriminatory?

  5. John from OK says:

    A quick glance through a 6th grade U.S. history book finds an effort to teach students about specific contributions of women and minorities; about non-European empires (such as China); the fact that there were no salves, only people who were enslaved; proper enthic pronunciations (“An’-war Sa-daat'”); and even how specific Christians (some of them women, of course) established various colonies. What gets lost is a concise year-long narrative of US history. It is my view that girls are outperforming boys in this area simply because the work is so boring and tedious that noone takes an interest; however girls at that age have better study habits than boys.

    Let’s add additional sections on who was lesbian (“Les’bi-an”) or homosexual, with a side-bar on how the latter is an outdated term; a section on the Stonewall riots which students will never read anyway, being that they can never get past 1840; and at least 3 exagerated contributions by transexuals (Re-nea’ Rich’-ards).

    I don’t really know where I’m going with this except that the idea sucks.

  6. Wayne Martin says:

    > Can you provide any reasonable substantiation
    > for your claim that 20% of gay men have AIDS?
    > Any at all?

    The following Reuters article provides the necessary provides information from the San Francisco’s Department of Public Health which backs up this claim:

    San Francisco may be world’s gayest city: report
    Fri Apr 7, 2006 07:30 PM ET

    By Adam Tanner

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – New statistics suggest San Francisco has the highest percentage of gay men among major cities in the world, with a quarter of them HIV-positive, a top city health official said on Friday.

    “Despite an overall loss in the population in San Francisco in the last five years, we think there has been an absolute gain in gay men,” William McFarland, head of HIV/AIDS statistics at San Francisco’s Department of Public Health, said in an interview. “From all the data I have seen … it’s the gayest city in the world.”

    McFarland has compiled the city’s first survey in five years on gay men and HIV to be presented at a meeting next week to discuss HIV/AIDS prevention.

    He said it found an estimated 63,577 gay males aged 15 and above in San Francisco, a city with a total population of 764,000. That figure represents nearly one in five of the city’s males above the age of 15.

    0ne out of every four gay males — 25.8 percent — is infected with the HIV virus, giving San Francisco an estimated total of 16,401 HIV-positive men, said McFarland, an epidemiologist who has also worked on studies in Uganda, Zimbabwe and Egypt.

    The survey indicates that the overall percentage of those living with HIV has dropped since the last study five years ago.

    “The major changes since 2001 are that, first of all, the gay community has grown. It’s largely been an influx of more HIV-negative gay men that are here,” he said. “It used to be near 30 percent.

    “The absolute number of gay men living with HIV has crept up partly because of ongoing transmission and partly because of improved survival with treatment,” he added.

    At 40 percent, Baltimore has the highest percentage of HIV-positive men among its population in a study of five cities, with San Francisco second, according to a 2005 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.

    In coming up with his estimate of the number of gay men, McFarland said he took the middle point of nine previous studies.

    McFarland acknowledged that it was difficult to get a precise number because of sensitivities over the issue. But he said San Francisco residents were likely to be more open about their sexuality than people in many other areas.

    The SF Dept. of Public Health has been releasing this report on a yearly basis for some time now.

  7. Then Walter is still wrong. Having the HIVirus is not the same as having AIDS. Additionally, San Francisco is hardly representative of, well, any group of people except San Franciscans.

    I think this textbook law is stupid, but let’s not toss errors of fact into the mix when arguing against it. To do so weakens that argument.

  8. SuperSub says:

    Darren – nice job arguing a technicality. Also, considering that San Francisco is the “gayest” city in the world, it does provide a significant set of data that can be used to represent the gay community. San Fran has 1/4 with HIV, and considering the influx of gay men to the city, it is not unreasonable to expect that elsewhere it will not be a significant fraction.

  9. Walter E. Wallis says:

    As I said back when reopening gay bath houses was a big issue in SF. Who are the real gay bashers, those who attempt to discourage suicidal behavior or those who say, in effect, go play in the traffic?

  10. Wayne Martin says:

    The CDC provided detailed information on this matter:

    HIV/AIDS among Men Who Have Sex with Men

    In the United States, HIV and AIDS have had a tremendous effect on men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM accounted for approximately two thirds of all HIV infections among men in 2003, even though only about 5% to 7% of men in the United States identify themselves as MSM [1, 2]. The number of HIV diagnoses for MSM decreased during the 1980s and 1990s, but recent surveillance data show an increase in HIV diagnoses for this group [3]. Given the high prevalence of HIV infection in young MSM of minority races and ethnicities, there is a continued need for culturally diverse prevention and education services.


    Cumulative Effect of HIV Infection and AIDS (through 2003)

    * An estimated 503,305 MSM (440,887 MSM and 62,418 MSM who inject drugs) had received a diagnosis of AIDS, accounting for 67% of all men and 54% of all people who received a diagnosis of AIDS [1]
    * An estimated 295,981 MSM (257,898 MSM and 38,083 MSM who inject drugs) with AIDS had died, accounting for 68% of all men and 56% of all people with AIDS who died [1].
    * At the end of 2003, an estimated 207,323 MSM (182,989 MSM and 24,334 MSM who inject drugs) were living with AIDS, representing 66% of all men and 51% of all people living with AIDS [1].

    Everyone is encouraged to read this material periodically.

  11. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Another point, Darren – if you know how to do it right you don’t need multiple partners. Back when all you had to worry about was a dose or some of those other subjects of Army movies, sewing wild oats reaped a sad harvest more often than not.
    As for you grandmother, where did she work?


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