Hundreds of children were pulled from their northern Californian schools by their parents, who were protesting against a new curriculum that includes LGBT+ people.
Around 700 children are believed to have been removed from school in a school district of 12,000 pupils last Friday (May 3), reports The Sacramento Bee.
The new curriculum covers the contributions of LGBT+ people in history and social-science classes for second-grade pupils, who are aged seven and older.
The LGBT-inclusive curriculum was introduced at a heated school-board meeting on May 1 that went on past midnight. The Californian school-district trustees narrowly approved the new curriculum in a 3-2 vote, after hours of public comment.
Parents opposing the new curriculum said that elementary schoolchildren are “too young” to learn about historical LGBT+ people.
Rachel Crutchfield, a spokeswoman for Informed Parents of Rocklin, said that “complex sexual topics” should only be covered in later grades.
“We believe that anyone who has made a significant contribution to society should, of course, be included in our history textbooks,” she told the Sacramento Bee.
“However, the concept of sexual orientation is far too complex of a topic for elementary-aged children to be introduced to at school. Children in second grade simply do not have the tools to comprehend sexuality, nor do we want them to. Let’s let kids be kids.”
In a proposed second grade textbook, Sally Ride is described as a “good example for all females,” and it is stated that she “joined NASA and became the first female and first lesbian American astronaut.”
“The concept of sexual orientation is far too complex of a topic for elementary-aged children.”
– Rachel Crutchfield, Informed Parents of Rocklin
Nearly 1,000 parents signed a petition asking for the decision on the new curriculum to be postponed, because their children were too young to learn about sexual orientation.
Others who opposed the adoption of the new curriculum had threatened to hold a “sit out” and not let their children attend school on Friday (May 3) – a threat they then carried out.
Other parents have said they are considering pulling their children out of Californian schools entirely as a result of the new LGBT-inclusive curriculum.
But Sacramento LGBT Community Center spokeswoman and Rocklin resident Rachel Henry said: “I know the importance of this inclusive curriculum from both a personal and professional perspective.”
More from PinkNews
|Stars You Didn't Know Were Gay Or Bisexual||The Stars You Didn’t Know Have An LGBT Sibling||The Straight Stars Who Went Gay For Pay|
“There are several empirical studies that show textbook curriculum that is explicitly inclusive of LGBTQ+ has dramatically positive effects on school climate for both LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ students,” Henry added to Fox News affiliate KTXL.
“Students of marginalised groups, such as the LGBTQ+ community, have a right to see themselves reflected in the history that they study.”
Californian LGBT-inclusive curriculum first in US
The row over LGBT-inclusive history lessons has been intensifying in recent years, as schools replace worn-out textbooks with those that will conform with a law passed eight years ago.
A 2011 Californian law made it the first state to require public schools to teach children about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The bill, known as the FAIR (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful) Education Act, also banned “discriminatory” teaching material.
The move made the state the first in the US to ensure that all children learn about LGBT+ figures, such as San Francisco gay rights campaigner Harvey Milk.
The Californian state board of education also approved 10 new LGBT-inclusive history books for elementary schools in November 2017.
Equality California executive director Rick Zbur said at the time: “This long fought victory is the next step for Californian students to learn about the contributions and history of LGBTQ people.
“Approval of these textbooks means that Californian schools will now have access to approved materials that accurately represent LGBTQ people, and Equality California applauds the State Board of Education for this historic decision.”