New & Stories

New California Curriculum Seeks to Transform How Children View Gender and Their Sexual Identity

This is part one of a three part series about how LGBT activists and state officials plan to use the FAIR Education Act (SB 48), to transform what California’s children believe about family, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and what parents and local school boards can do to stop it.

By Amy Haywood

Parents and the U.S. Constitution are rapidly becoming obstacles for the California Department of Education (CDE) and its plans to implement the History-Social Sciences (HSS) Framework statewide. Rather than abiding by the FAIR Education Act (SB 48), which mandates inclusion of LGBT heroes in history and social science textbooks and instructional materials in public schools, the Framework seeks to radically transform children’s understanding of history. On November 9, in a process that was overwhelmingly dominated by LGBT activists, the California State Board of Education (SBE) voted to adopt K-8 textbooks that reflect standards in the HSS Framework that draw heavily from recommendations from LGBT activists.

It is a transformational effort aimed at changing worldviews by normalizing sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) ideology among California’s children.

The California legislature passed SB 48 in 2011, which requires the inclusion of the role and contributions of “European Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups…” in social sciences instruction. This law is mandatory, but in regard to its implementation, CDE guidance states that “it falls to the teacher and the local school and district administration to determine how the content is covered and at which grade level(s).” Furthermore, Education Code Section 60002 stipulates, “Each district board shall provide for substantial teacher involvement in the selection of instructional materials and shall promote the involvement of parents and other members of the community in the selection of instructional materials.” The HSS Framework, however, is not mandatory—though some may mistakenly believe that it is. According to Education Code Section 33308.5, the CDE’s guidelines “shall be designed to serve as a model or example, and shall not be prescriptive.”

It is unclear why media have provided sparse coverage of SB 48-related developments and why parents across the state appear to be blissfully unaware of all that transpired in this seemingly public Framework and textbook adoption process. LGBT activists were well organized throughout the entire process, beginning with the creation of a document linked on the GLBT California Teachers’ Association website  called Making the Framework Fair: California History-Social Science Framework Proposed LGBT Revisions Related to the Fair Education Act. One of the editors is Dr. Don Romesburg, Co-Chair of the Committee on LGBT History and Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies at Sonoma State University. Romesburg has been a prominent name in the formation of the CDE’s HSS Framework adoption and rollout.

LGBT activists also submitted hundreds of written comments and stacked the hearings with speakers who gave public comments. In July, when I happened to learn about the textbook adoption because of transgender content that I chanced upon on my second grader’s BrainPop program, I submitted a public comment that, at the time, was the only public comment in opposition to the aggressive approach of HSS Framework in the entire state of California. After the alarm was sounded, many parents, educators, citizens and organizations hastily sent in public comments so they would be counted at the final public hearing in November.

Throughout the entire process, the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), an advisory board to the SBE, depended heavily on the recommendations of the FAIR Education Implementation Coalition, which included the ACLU of California, Our Family Coalition, the Committee on LGBT History, Equality California, GSA Network, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Transgender Law Center, Safe Schools Project Santa Cruz County, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. In fact, the 10 textbooks that this coalition recommended to the IQC (if certain suggested edits were made) were ultimately adopted by the SBE.

Interestingly, the California School Board of Education rejected the two programs from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) that did not implement the coalition’s suggested corrections and edits. In a letter to the IQC, the coalition recommended HMH programs be rejected “because they fail to include substantial LGBT-related content from the HSS Framework (Criteria 1.2), and lack diverse portrayals of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans (Criteria 1.14).”  The letter states that the coalition “has not yet seen any proposed edits or corrections from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,” and that “coalition members’ efforts to work with them to bring their program into compliance with the required LGBT-related content have not been embraced.”

It seems that HMH materials might be compliant with SB 48 (the law)—but not with the HSS Framework (optional). If that is the case, HMH programs might still be candidates for adoption for local school districts who do not adopt the Framework and who look outside of the SBE-adopted textbook list. This is still unclear to me, but I have reached out to the publisher to find out the answer.

Despite the objections of a growing number of concerned Californians, the SOGI content in the 10 adopted programs was retained and amplified. As a condition of adoption, publishers of the 10 programs will need to make IQC recommended edits and corrections as laid out in the 2017 History-Social Science Adoption: Instructional Quality Commission Advisory Report, and here is a sample of what the corrected content (many of which were suggested edits made by the LGBT coalition) will look like for McGraw-Hill’s Impact: California Social Studies, K-5. I pulled this material from page 76 of the IQC’s advisory report. 

First graders will read:

“Ellen De Generes, a lesbian and a humanitarian, is a famous comedian.”

“Langston Hughes was a famous gay African American poet.”

For second grade, students will see:

“Lea likes to go to the beach with her dads.”

“Billie Jean King, a bisexual, has also spoken out for gay rights.”

“Nikki Giovanni is a lesbian poet.”

“On June 18, 1983, she became the first lesbian American woman to travel in space.”

For Pearson Scott Foresman and Prentice Hall’s, California History-Social Science myWorld Interactive, K-5, IQC reviewers on page 191 noted, “References to José Julio Sarria’s being gay and dressing like a woman may be too sensitive for 2nd graders.” Instead, publishers have decided to include the following correction to page 172 of the Student Edition and Teacher’s Edition:

Revise feature to read:
José Julio Sarria
Champion of Equal Rights
José Julio Sarria was a leader in California. He ran for public office in 1961. He decided to be honest. He told people he believed strongly in equal rights. He felt all people should be treated fairly. He did not win. But he made people know they had to pay attention to the rights of all people.

José Julio Sarria was the founder of a worldwide help group. This group fights for equal rights. For Sarria, honesty gave him strength. It inspired other leaders to run for office, too.

Write about how José Julio Sarria’s honesty inspired others to run for office.

Interview Your Family
Ask family members to describe a time when honesty helped them stand up for their beliefs.

Change will be reflected on the reduced student edition page of the corresponding Teacher Edition page.

Page 192 of the IQC report shows what the Teacher’s Edition (page 172) will say:

Write the quality of honesty on the board. Explain that José Julio Sarria was an example of honesty because he chose to speak out for what he believed in. Have children read the text, or read it aloud as children follow along. Explain to children that “to run for office” means to try to get people to vote for you to serve in government—to try to get elected by voters. Ask: What was Sarria honest about? (He told voters that he believed all people should be treated fairly and have equal rights.) Engage children in a discussion about Sarria’s honesty. Encourage them to discuss whether being honest or being elected is more important. Ask: Although Sarria was not elected, how was he a hero for equal rights? (Sarria spoke out about people’s rights and helped to start a help group that fights for rights around the world.) Talk with children about why Sarria might have inspired others to run for office.”

Create a Flag Discuss with children that being proud of and comfortable with oneself can help a person be honest and confident. Encourage children to make a list of their own positive traits and write them on the board. The following may be some of the children’s traits: athletic, shy, musical, artistic, funny, creative, friendly, smart. Have children suggest icons, color blocks, or shapes to represent the traits and use them to create a class flag. Display your class flag for all to see at the front of the classroom.

Page 193 of the IQC report shows an additional publisher’s proposed correction for page 172 of the Teacher’s Edition, which states:

If it is appropriate for your class, you might tell the children more details about Sarria. He told the public that he was gay and was a performer who dressed as a woman on stage. His political campaign inspired the movement for gay rights.

The one program that LGBT activists recommended to the IQC for approval with no suggested edits of their own (only publisher-submitted edits and corrections) was Teachers’ Curriculum Institute’s Social Studies Alive! California Series (K-5). Here is an example from page 235 of the IQC report of a change the publishers must make as a condition of the program’s adoption:

C-3, C-4: Lesson 3, Grade 2 flip card and in Vocabulary – the definition for “sibling” says “brother or sister.” There are gender neutral siblings and words that should be inserted here. The assumption that siblings fit neatly into a binary gender dichotomy is antiquated and inaccurate (emphasis added).

Notice here that the correction addresses not historical information, per se, but rather actively promotes the alternative sexual worldview that a person can self-identify his or her gender (sex) based on subjective thoughts or feelings, while simultaneously attacking and undermining the objective biological, historical, and theological (See Gen. 1:27) categories of male and female (the gender binary) as “antiquated and inaccurate.”

This radical deconstruction of gender is very controversial and is known as queer theory. Teaching this replacement anthropology to our children will have far-reaching consequences.

And, though the next examples I will share are not corrections, I wanted to include some passages that weren’t mentioned in the edits/corrections process as an example of the type of content that is par for the course in the 10 adopted programs. The programs are searchable online at the CDE website. (Since this article was published, the programs are no longer online. Only the titles of the approved books are available. Hard copies can be found at Learning Resource Display Centers across the state. Only draft copies will be available at these centers until April or May when the final copies of the books with all of the required revisions and edits will be displayed for the public.) I searched Social Studies Alive! California Series for K-5, an online program, and in a section about biographies, which I accessed from both second grade and third grade programs, I found a page that tells about the life of Charley Parkhurst. It reads:

Charlotte Parkhurst was born in New Hampshire in 1812. As an adult, Charlotte lived life as a man named Charley. Some think that Parkhurst may have found that it was easier to work as a man than as a woman. It is also possible that Parkhurst had identified as a man.

In “Chapter 5: Citizen and Civic Engagement” of Pearson’s myWorld Interactive 3 (for third grade) Harvey Milk is described as a hero in California. The following from page 213 details his life and work:

Harvey Milk was a political leader and a gay activist in the early 1970s. Gay men are attracted to other men. Milk was elected to a local government office in San Francisco in 1977. He was one of the first elected officials in history to tell the public that he was gay. Milk worked hard to protect gay and lesbian rights. Lesbians are women who are attracted to other women. Milk’s work also made it easier for gay, lesbian, bisexual (those attracted to both men and women), and transgender groups to stand up for their rights.

Chaz Bono is a transgender activist. The word gender refers to whether someone is male or female. Transgender people feel that their gender is the opposite of what it was at birth. Bono was born female, but always felt male. He changed his gender and today lives as a man. Bono and other activists fight against discrimination and other stereotypes of their community.

Some parents with a more liberal perspective might think these excerpts are mild, but it’s important to know that the textbooks are just a starting point. In Part Two of this three-part series, I will show you why parents from both sides of the aisle should be very concerned.

If you would like more information, please contact the California Family Council or the National Center for Law and Policy.


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