Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

Gays in textbooks: Two arguments against SB 48

June 22, 2011 |  2:33 pm

Gays in textbooks Catholics for the Common Good recently cited  an April 8 editorial in its dissent of SB 48, a bill that would allow politicians permission to change textbooks so that they include information about members from the gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual community. However, the reasons for its opposition to the bill comes from a different perspective than that of the editorial board.

Catholics for the Common Good is against the bill ideologically, fearing the sexualization of education, and also because of the fiscal burden it could impose on the state.

In addition to its corrupting consequences for children about love, human sexuality, marriage, and family, it will cost California taxpayers millions to implement and have a disrupting effect on local school districts struggling with reduced budgets and burdened by state mandates that undermine their critical mission of educating our children. […]

Imagine the cost of California requiring new textbooks that no other states would use. Imagine the cost of developing new curricula and associated materials and the time every school district and teacher will have to devote to reviewing materials for compliance to avoid law suits. Even though additional expenditures will be required, legislative leaders have determined, based on a technicality, that the bill will have no fiscal impact, and have avoided any budgetary scrutiny at all.

Although the editorial board also opposes the bill, it's not because these additions would shatter a child's image of marriage. It's because the board doesn't want to see education politicized. In other words: Politicians shouldn't be in the business of writing textbooks.

The bill, SB 48, adds to an overly long list of requirements, some more reasonable than others, that have been pressed upon the state's textbooks over the years. Minority groups, the elderly and the disabled must be represented proportionally and never portrayed in a bad light. People in poor countries aren't supposed to be shown as poor, lest they be stereotyped, and information on AIDS in Africa must not reflect negatively on the continent. So poor people aren't poor and the elderly are physically fit and financially sound, according to the textbooks -- and we complain that students are poorly educated.

Fables don't make for solid instruction. History is the great story of people, groups and movements -- their faults as well as their accomplishments -- shaping the world up through the events of today. It is a story best told by historians, not by politicians.

The bill was passed by the California Senate on April 14; the hearing before the Assembly takes place Wednesday. What do you think of the bill?  Do you fear, as Catholics for the Common Good does, that this bill will sexualize textbooks? Or do you align more with our editorial board: that politicians ought not be in the position to politicize students' education?


Gays in textbooks: Best told by historians, not by politicians

Gays in textbooks? There's a better way than 'sanitized truth'

Catholic Charities should get out of adoption business if it can't accept gay marriage

--Samantha Schaefer

Cartoon: Ted Rall / For the Times. Click on cartoon for full-size image.

Comments ()