Updated classroom textbook guide includes gay, lesbian uses

A statewide social content guide for school leaders is set for revision this month to incorporate a newly adopted state law requiring classroom textbooks to recognize the contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.

The guide, which was originally adopted in 2000, is used by school administrators and local district boards to evaluate instructional materials in context of issues of social importance.

The update to the Standards for Evaluating Instructional Materials for Social Content is scheduled to come before the California State Board of Education next week. The changes were prompted by the adoption in July 2011 of SB 48 - by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco - which made California the first state in the nation to require that school textbooks and history lessons include the contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.

Tom Torlakson, state schools superintendent and Mike Kirst, state board president, said in the foreword of the proposed updated content guide that instructional materials used in California classrooms need to provide a positive educational experience for all students.

Instructional materials play an important role in forming a child's attitudes; therefore, these materials need to reflect a multicultural society and to avoid stereotyping," Torlakson and Kirst said. "The following standards ensure that instructional materials contain appropriate depictions of matters such as male and female roles, older people and the aging process, people with disabilities, and religion."

The update is planned for public release by California Department of Education on their website soon, assuming the state board approves the changes. The guide also includes changes called for by AB 300, requiring that the term "American Negroes," be replaced in California instructional materials with the term, "African Americans."

Other changes:

- The addition of a citation (EC Section 50501) for the sections on Male and Female Roles, Ethnic and Cultural Groups, and Religion.

- The addition of the section on Sexual Orientation (EC sections 50501, 60040(b), and 60044(a))

- The addition of citations (EC sections 50501, 60040(b), and 60044(a)) for the section on People with Disabilities

- The replacement of the term "Diet and Exercise" with "Nutrition and Physical Activity"

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