The California State Assembly has finally passed a bill which will protect gay and lesbian students and school staff from abuse.
The measure has been very controversial, but by a 46 to 31 vote, the bill will now to go the state Senate for approval.
The Speaker of the Assembly, Fabina Nunez, welcomed the new law:
“We’ll send a message here that California is above it, that each and every person in our schools is going to be treated with the love and respect they deserve.”
There has been a disinformation campaign by fundamentalist Christians, who claimed that the bill would ban textbooks that define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
In fact, it merely prohibits teachers, textbooks and other teaching material from presenting LGBT people in a negative light.
It aims to stop public schools teaching that, for example, homosexuality is wrong or that AIDS was caused by gay people.
“It’s really stopping the use of taxpayer money for hate speech and discrimination,” Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, the bill’s sponsor, told The Sacramento Bee.
Similar protections against discrimination on the basis of race, creed, religion or disability are already in place in California public schools.
Despite being home to millions of LGBT people, Californian conservative groups have put up fierce resistance to the measures.
The view of Republican Assembly member Dennis Mountjoy shows the wide gulf in opinion in the state:
“This is not about discrimination, it’s about acceptance. You want us in society to accept homosexuality as normality, and it’s not.”
The original bill wanted to change the social science curriculum to reflect the contribution of gay and lesbian people, but Governor Schwarzenegger indicated he would veto any bill that “micromanaged textbook selection.”
The revised bill is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law by the actor-turned-politician later this year.