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California becomes first state to adopt LGBTI-inclusive history textbooks

California becomes first state to adopt LGBTI-inclusive history textbooks

OFC celebrating California's adoption of inclusive textbooks

The California state board of education approved 10 new LGBTI-inclusive history textbooks for K-8 classrooms on Thursday (9 November). They became the first state in the US to make such a move.

In 2011, the state adopted guidelines to teach LGBTI history in K-12 schools.

Two months ago, they began reviewing new materials to meet these guidelines. The Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) consequently met with Our Family Coalition (OFC) and Equality California to go over the proposed textbooks.

The state board accepted all but two. They rejected two Houghton Mifflin Harcourt textbooks that violated the state’s 2011 Fair Education Act.

In the Houghton textbooks, historical figures’ sexual identities were not included. The commission stated that the ‘absence of specific labels regarding sexual orientation creates an adverse reflection because the identity of these individuals is not honored and demeans their contributions to history’.

Houghton shot back, responding they feel the terms ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer are contemporary terms that may not map well on past lives and experiences’.

A long fought victory

Both Equality California and OFC praised the decision.

EQCQ’s Executive Director Rick Zbur called it a ‘long fought victory’.

OFC also tweeted about the decision.

Executive Director Renata Moreira also wrote a letter, explaining what comes next.

‘After we sweep up the celebration confetti: back to work on the next chapter,’ she enthuses. ‘In the coming months, school board after school board up and down the state will be launching into their examination of these textbooks and deciding what’s right for their community.’