Schools in California may be legally obliged to teach about the contributions of gay and transgender people, after a bill was passed by the state Senate this week.

It would include sexual orientation on a list of requirements, including gender and race, which schools cannot ignore or discriminate against and must recognise positively in textbooks.

Senator Sheila Kuehl, a sponsor of the bill, said there is a “very good chance” of passing the Legislature and getting it turned into law.

Ms Kuehl, who is a lesbian, said: “There is nothing controversial in this bill, fairness has always played well when we’re talking about our schools. All this bill does is to say that official materials adopted by the schools shouldn’t contain adverse materials about gay people and that our role should be accurately reflected in the teaching of history.”

But opponents of the bill feel the legislation could minimise the role of families and gender specific activities such as prom queens.

Karen England, of the Capitol Resource Institute, said schools shouldn’t be forced to teach about bisexuality and transexuality, “If someone contributes to American society, it doesn’t matter what their sexual orientation is,”

“We don’t want this agenda forced on our kids in the classroom.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee said: “Silence and biased messages about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people only promotes negative stereotypes and this, in turn, can lead to discrimination, harassment and violence.”