California has broken new ground by approving ten LGBTQ-inclusive history and social studies textbooks for primary schools.
The California State Board of Education on Thursday also rejected two other proposed textbooks that failed to include LGBTQ people.
It’s believed that the state is now the first in the US to adopt LGBTQ-inclusive text books for the popular K–8 model schools.
K–8 schools in the US educate students from kindergarten (age 5–6) till 8th grade (up to age 14), instead of separating them in elementary schools and junior high or middle schools.
“I am proud California continues to lead the nation by teaching history-social science that is inclusive and recognises the diversity of our great state and nation,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “Students will benefit enormously.”
Rick Zbur, Executive Director at Equality California, one of the groups that lobbied for the LGBT inclusion, commented: “This long fought victory is the next step for California students to learn about the contributions and history of LGBTQ people.”
“Approval of these textbooks means that California schools will now have access to approved materials that accurately represent LGBTQ people,” added Zbur.
The move followed the state’s 2011 passage of the FAIR Education Act, which modified the California education code to include the roles and contributions of LGBTQ people and people with disabilities to the list of ethnic and cultural groups to be included in history and social sciences curriculum.
“The decision today means that LGBTQ students, and those with LGBTQ families, will finally be able to see themselves and our history accurately reflected in textbooks in California,” said Renata Moreira, Executive Director at Our Family Coalition.
The approved text books will not be automatically introduced into schools. The more than 1,000 school districts across California, with over six million students, will now have to individually decide whether or not to adopt the text books.
Moreira vowed to work with educators, partners and community members to “ensure that every student in California has access to fair and accurate portrayals of the LGBTQ community and our contributions”.