Family Groups Challenge Gay History Law in Calif.

A coalition of pro-family groups in California launched another effort Tuesday to overturn the state's landmark law that requires gay history to be taught in public schools.

The coalition submitted a proposed initiative to reverse the “overreaching aspects” of SB 48, to the California attorney general's office. If approved, the Children Learning Accurate Social Science Act would be placed on the ballot in 2012.

The Pacific Justice Institute Center for Public Policy drafted the initiative and initial filings. They are part of the coalition and have been working with other leading pro-family groups in California in developing the CLASS Act.

Those in support of the act will begin collecting signatures in early 2012. The first attempt to reverse the law failed earlier this year when the coalition gathered 497,000 signatures, just shy of the 505,000 that are required.

Brad Dacus, president of PJI, commented in a statement, “In less than three months, and with less than ten percent of the funding of a typical campaign, we collected two-thirds of the signatures needed to get the Stop SB 48 Referendum on the ballot. With the CLASS Act, we will have significantly more time to gather signatures, greater awareness by citizens, and better funding that we are convinced will get this issue before the voters in 2012.”

Passed in July of this year, SB 48 requires that textbooks used in California public schools include significant contributions from gays, lesbians and transgendered people in history. It also requires the development of new teaching material covering sexual orientation, and prohibits the use of materials negatively reflecting gay and lesbian lifestyles.

Jack Hibbs, one of the CLASS Act sponsors, said on the StopSB48 website that the law’s requirements go too far. “We all know that the issue of homosexuality is controversial. It is unacceptable to require that our schools shine a spotlight on this lifestyle on the one hand, and then demand that history books and teachers censor shortcomings on the other.”

Pro-family groups say the law gives too much focus to a minority group and discriminates against Christians who oppose homosexuality. The California group Protect Kids Foundation said SB 48 is essentially political activism in the schools.

On their website, Protect Kids lists some of the harmful effects of the law. They say it “violates the innocence of 7 million California children, promotes gender confusion and may lead to gender experimentation, it sexualizes social science material unnecessarily, normalizes homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism and omits known dangers of homosexual lifestyle – especially for men.”

Advocates of the CLASS Act say the initiative provides that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other minority figures are not excluded from California curriculum. But it does require accurate historical portrayals of all individuals – meaning it has to include the good, the bad and the ugly.

Kevin Snider of PJI believes the proposed initiative provides an appropriate balance, although the specific language in the act has not been released. In a statement on the StopSB48 website, he states, “We drafted an initiative that responds to the perception that some want to ignore the contributions of certain individuals. This initiative prohibits history book exclusion of anybody based on their membership in a protected class. But it requires an accurate, historical portrayal of any individual.”

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