California will add lessons about gay history to social studies classes in all public schools.
Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed the landmark bill Thursday, making California the first U.S. state to require public schools to acknowledge the contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans, the LA Times reports.
The bill has drawn criticism from churches and conservative groups, which argue such material would expose students to a subject that some parents find objectionable, the Associated Press reports.
And Tim Donnelly, a Republican from Twin Peaks and self-described Christian, said last week that the bill was being used to promote a "homosexual agenda" in public schools.
But Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco, the author of the bill — Democratic-majority Legislature passed the bill last week — said the new curriculum would teach students to be more accepting of gays and lesbians, reducing the bullying of gay students and giving them role models.
Brown, meanwhile, said in a statement Thursday:
"History should be honest. This bill revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books.
"I think it's one thing to say that we should be tolerant. It is something else altogether to say that my children are going to be taught that this lifestyle is good."
According to CBS:
California law already requires schools to teach about women, African Americans, Mexican Americans, entrepreneurs, Asian Americans, European Americans, American Indians and labor. The Legislature over the years also has prescribed specific lessons about the Irish potato famine and the Holocaust, among other topics.