SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — California’s secretary of state on Tuesday cleared a group to begin collecting signatures for a ballot referendum to overturn a first-in-the-nation law requiring public schools to teach the contributions of gays and lesbians in social studies lessons.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB48 earlier this month, making California the first state to mandate such lessons in public school curriculum. The requirement is set to take effect in the 2013-14 school year.

It took opponents less than two weeks to draft the referendum challenging the move.

At a time of budget cuts, California schools should be focused on improving student performance and lowering the high school dropout rate, said Paulo Sibaja, a spokesman for the group Stop SB48.

“Politicians have no business writing textbooks. It should be left to the historians and academic experts,” he said.

Backers of the referendum will need to gather 504,760 signatures from registered voters by Oct. 12 to qualify for the next statewide ballot. Sibaja said paid and volunteer signature-gatherers will be used to try to meet the requirement.

Supporters of SB48 said it will teach students to be more accepting and perhaps help end bullying of gay students. It also ensures that students are taught about the contributions of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.

“It’s important for us right now to educate Californians about what the bill does and does not do,” said Rebekah Orr, a spokeswoman for Equality California, a leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights advocacy group in California. “We want to be clear that this bill is about teaching historical figures and not just LGBT people.”

The new law also requires California public schools to teach the contributions of disabled people.

Orr said Equality California and its partners are prepared to fight the referendum if it qualifies for the ballot.

Many conservatives opposed the law, saying it would teach children to accept homosexuality. The law has drawn criticism from some churches and conservative groups that argue such instruction would expose students to a subject that some parents find objectionable.

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.

The new law requires the California Board of Education and school districts to use textbooks and other teaching materials that cover the contributions and roles of sexual minorities.

The legislation leaves it to local school boards to decide how to implement the requirement. It does not specify a grade level for the instruction to begin.

A telephone message left for the bill’s author, Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, wasn’t immediately returned. His office said the senator was out of town for the Legislature’s summer recess.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, who carried the bill in the Assembly, also was out of town.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (22)
  1. roger says:

    Why these people want to sexualize education is troubling to me. I don’t care if the inventer of any particular widget is straight or gay, but children don’t need to be taught that. Only that he/she invented the widget. It’s not a real far stretch to believe these legislators are prospecting kids into their lifestyle…with government participation.

    1. Richard Boyle says:

      It’s not about sexualizing anything because being gay isn’t just a matter of sex or sex acts. It’s who and what we are. We do contribute to society and we should get credit for it. All you have to say is, “By the way, this person is/was gay.” You don’t have to make some big production out of it as some would have you believe. If ackowledging the positive contributions of gay people would decrease or put an end to bullying then I’m all for it. We don’t need to have gay kids bullied to the point where they kill themselves or get killed by some school mate who hatees them.

      1. WHOA says:

        Agreed, If they want to add the guy was gay who invented the “whatever” so beit. But lets not have a whole book searching for Gay accomplishments to put the gays on a podium. Then we have to have a book for every nationality. What a joke that would be. Let credit be given when deserved and end it there.

        Personally If you want equality you dont mention anything about anyone except there name.

    2. Richard Boyle says:

      A PS – We do not recruit!!!

      1. john says:

        i mean no disrespect, but it does at times feel like you are trying to push you moral view point on us.. again i mean no disrespect. we do have the freedom of religion too. it seems when we exercise that freedom we get attacked with name calling and ignorant profiles. a true christian does not hate you. and i personaly would not stand by and watch anyone get picked on or bullied.. GOD forgive me BUT I DO HATE BULLIES.

  2. dave smith says:

    Bigots, hateful and a threat to normal society. Alan Turing, a highly respected computer pioneer studied by computer scientists lead the team to break the German Enigma machine. His work saved 1000s of Allied solider lives; yes including Christian bigots. Turing was GAY. He was ostracised once it was discovered, kicked out of the research and committed suicide.

  3. Lee Tolbert says:

    It’s time the Mormons stay out of politics. The Constitution guarantees the separation of Church and State. They should be looking for their missing sacred tablets in the desert to validate their religion instead of forcing their morals on others.

    1. JIm Bob Duggar says:

      what do Mormons have to do with this, the Mormon Church isn’t behind it. Why do you blame Mormons, others that are not Mormons share the same belief. You claim to be about tolerance, but why don’t you tolerate my religious belief, although I disagree with your opinion, I don’t say you can’t have your opinion and you have to do it my way. Remember the will of the voters will prevail, this isn’t about Mormons, more than 5 million people voted in favor or Proposition 8, the Mormon church doesn’t 5 million members in California, this was the will of the people. What we have is a minority, less than 2% of the population is LGBT, yet they are quite loud. Why don’t you stop being hypocritical, if someone has a different opinion, that does not make them a bigot, you should be tolerant of different beliefs instead of trying to force your perverted view of morality of my family and take away my freedom of religion, and the civil rights of all Californians who voted to amend the CA constitution in an attempt to prevent a very vocal small minority from perverting our children. You claim we take away civil rights by defining criteria for a title, but yet you are trying to take away my civil right to vote, by the way voting really is a civil, criteria to get married is not. The domestic partners registry gives same sex couple all the same rights as married couples, this isn’t about right, its about the LGBT trying to pervert centuries old definitions of morality and not tolerate opinions different form theirs. But this isn’t about the Mormons, they didn’t do it, so leave them out, and focus on the facts.

      1. john says:

        well said jim.

  4. Richard Boyle says:

    These people just haqte gay people. And that’s the way it is. To them we are not as good or as worthy. To them we are not equal citizens under the law. To them we are sinners or some such BS. Ignorance knows no bounds among them.

  5. john says:

    i understand the plight of the fox, but i also understand the point of view of the hound. i don’t think it is so much hate and bigoty as it is not wanting the state telling us how to raise our kids, and what they should be exposed to.
    then on the other hand the bulling has to stop!!! this has gotten way out of hand and it has to stop. us parents are the only ones that can, and should make this change. but we all know that most bullies come from drunken or broken homes with parents that never got past the third grade.

  6. Agent P says:

    Why does a person’s sexuality or sexual preference need to be added or highlighted to the fact that he/she was an influential contributor to society?

    And –

    Why is it necessary to expose children of grade-school age, sexuality of Any sort, under any heading?

    1. Philip Scharfy says:


    2. john says:

      well said. if anything that is more for collage level students.

  7. Matthew says:

    The right-wing wants to stop this because as they say —“ignorance is bliss”.. If they can deny the contributions of gay folks — they can continue their assault on GLBT rights — whilst brainwashing some in the next generation into their backward way of thinking.. I hope this FAILS…. this is a GOOD LAW that needs to be defended… and we, the voters, will vigorously do so….

    1. Shepherd says:

      Hmmm, I’m not a right winger, in fact I’m Black, and a center leaning Democrat who voted for Obama. Heck, I even live in the hood. All I see here are leftists who are speaking for other people (Ex.. Matthew’s comment). Simply because we have lives to live and don’t have time to pay attention to this nonsense does it mean we agree with you. Blacks can’t stand being compared to Gays and our struggles are infinitely different. Sexual preference isn’t a CIVIL RIGHT. I’d go on but, anyone who says ANYTHING against gay rights is met with phrases like “spewing hatred”, and “”brainwashing”. The point is, I don’t really care all that much that we get bombarded with the gay agenda daily, I figure the media is controlled by the left. However, if you think I’m gonna let you force this down MY kid’s throat??… You have another thing coming! You’ve already stolen one vote from us.

  8. Peter B. Towle says:

    This and all other revisionist history is absurd! This is a frontal attack on our children who with this will be programmed to accept all this propaganda as true and valid history. Heroes and figures of history are made of who they are and what they did and NOT their sexual agenda.

    1. john says:

      well i agree that sexual agenda should be kept out of the classroom. but the history they teach is so dated and one sided it’s not funny. take the invasion of California in the 1840’s by illegal immigrants. white settlers that pured in here illegally and began homesteading. stealing land from the citizens of California.
      and their are a lot of other half trues that are being taught in our schools today.

  9. salix says:

    Remember, for every Hadrian, there were people like Caligula/Elagabalus. Will the proponent of the law open to label some of the true monsters of History as Gay/bisexual?

    1. john says:

      don’t forget jeffery dalmer

  10. Ben says:

    So schools are now about teaching what special interest groups can strongarm through in legislation, giving them the power of revisionism. I’m more shocked about the extent of what schools are being forced to teach than this particular example. The referendum should overturn them all and we should send the entire state legislature back to the private sector in the next election.

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