What California law requires in teaching about LGBTQ people in public schools

Videos of gay pride being shown in a Glendale third-grade classroom have added an intense local chapter to a national debate about how and when to approach lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools.

The episode unfolded with the revelation that a Jefferson Elementary School teacher had shown gay pride videos to her students and asked for the district’s help in evaluating which of the four specific videos would be appropriate for use in the classroom. The teacher’s lessons and her inquiry occurred almost a year ago, but they surfaced last month with the online posting of an email exchange between the teacher, Tammy Tiber, and a district curriculum coach.

The consequences It has included both reasoned and calm debate, as well as shouts, boos and even threats against Tiber, a teacher with 34 years of experience. The district transferred Tiber from the classroom to an online teaching position out of concern for his safety, authorities said, adding that the transfer was not punitive.

At recent Glendale Unified School District board meetings, some parents and activists have asserted the right of parental control over education, particularly when it relates to issues they consider sensitive.

Here’s what California education law and policy say on these topics.

What does California require about LGBTQ education?

California law requires students to learn and receive instructional materials that explain role and contributions from, among others, “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans.”

How this is accomplished is left up to teachers and local school systems, said Maria Clayton, a spokeswoman for the department. the state-approved social science framework notes that teachers should use “age-appropriate” materials to discuss and teach about “the diversity of humanity.”

Recommended resources include materials from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

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How early are California students supposed to learn about issues related to gender expression and identity?

Much of this is left to local discretion. But state guidelines state that second grade studentsby studying the histories of “a diverse collection of families,” including those “with lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender parents and their children…they can locate themselves and their own families in history and learn about the lives and historical facts. fights of his companions”.

The GLAAD organization, what is recommended on a state education department resource page, offers an explanation of common terminology used to define community.

We use the acronym LGBT to describe the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community,” according to GLAAD. “The first three letters (LGB) refer to sexual orientation. The ‘T’ stands for gender identity issues.

“Gender identity is your own internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman,” the explanation continues. “Sexual orientation describes a person’s enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to another person (for example: straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual). Transgender people can be straight, lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

For younger children, an appropriate message might be more basic, said Bacardi Jackson, acting deputy legal director for children’s rights at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“Even just including images of different types of families is a way to approach and address that issue,” Jackson said. “Lessons that just showed families that look in different ways. Or by asking the children: Who might be missing from some common narratives? Who is not represented in some of our common media? Those would be age-appropriate ways to have arguments. Difference in itself is not something to be subjected to some value judgment. We can appreciate the difference.”

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How much leeway do parents have to remove their children from lessons on gender identity?

Parents/guardians may opt out of comprehensive sexual health and HIV prevention education lessons, but not out of instruction that refers to gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.

For example, parents could not pull children out of a social studies lesson in the 2015 US Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

If a parent chooses to keep the child out of school when such a lesson is taught, it will likely be recorded as an unexcused absence.

Did Glendale’s third grade teacher and school meet state guidelines?

No evidence has emerged that Glendale teacher Tammy Tiber violated local or state guidelines in her class at Jefferson Elementary. A district curriculum advisor wholeheartedly endorsed three short videos Tiber asked about. The adviser had reservations about a fourth video but did not forbid Tiber to show it.

In a statement, Glendale Superintendent. Vivian Ekchian noted that “we are very intentional” in selecting a curriculum that is aligned with state requirements, with the goal of providing “an inclusive and respectful representation of the rich diversity in our community.”

How do the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Learning for Justice materials fit into this discussion?

Tiber, on behalf of the school system, was testing widely used materials created by the Southern Poverty Law Center. These materials were developed decades ago, and have evolved over time, by the nonprofit group to combat racism and white supremacy.

the Learning for Justice The materials used at Glendale do not include the gay pride videos, but the entirety of the lessons the organization offers are intended to promote diversity and inclusion, including empathy for students who do not conform to gender norms.

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“This notion of making things invisible, we know is not a solution,” said Jackson of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “So we can’t pretend the themes don’t exist. We cannot pretend that people do not exist. So to set up a scenario where some kids can come in and talk about their identities or their families, and other kids are excluded from those exercises, is deeply damaging.”

How do California’s education policies compare to those of other states?

California’s policies are generally in step with states that have more liberal leadership, such as New York. But the most conservative states, including Texas Y Louisiana — have been reflecting on or setting limits to teaching about gender identity.

A new florida law – which critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, saying so marginalizes LGBTQ people — prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. At least five other states have similar legislation approved or in process. and at least 19 states have restricted either they are ready to restrict children’s access to gender-affirming care when it conflicts with the individual’s biological gender at birth.

Do parents or the public have the opportunity to participate in decisions about what is taught?

School districts and the state typically have a lengthy public process, including hearings and a comment period, before education officials approve curricular materials. But hearings and textbook reviews rarely attract much attention.

Glendale officials noted that there is also a process for complaining about a lesson. Parents should first raise the issue with the teacher; they can then go to the principal and finally, if necessary, they can file a formal complaint with senior district personnel.