Opponents of Calif. Gay History Law Race to Meet Ballot Deadline

Conservative groups opposed to California’s recently passed law requiring public schools to teach about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans in social studies classes are scrambling to gather the needed signatures for a ballot referendum.

The key groups organizing the collection of signatures, called the Stop SB48 campaign, are Pacific Justice Institute and Capitol Resource Institute. They need to gather 504,760 signatures from registered voters by Oct.12 in order for the measure to qualify to be on the June 2012 ballot.

Opponents of SB48 argue that the law is trying to indoctrinate students that homosexuality is positive, even if parents oppose such sexuality due to religious beliefs. The law would infringe on parents’ right to educate their children on ethical and religious matters, and also introduce sexuality to young children, they argue.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB48 on July 14, making his state the first in the nation to force gay history into the public school curriculum. Since California is the largest textbook market in the country, critics of the law fear that other states will also be forced to use textbooks with LGBT history as publishers revise textbooks to meet their largest client’s requirement.

Besides the LGBT community, SB48 also requires the state’s social studies curriculum to include the contribution of Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, European Americans, and the disabled. It bars social studies curriculums from speaking negatively about the LGBT community and specific religions.

So far, the heavy weight signature organizers of Proposition 8, the Catholic and Mormon churches, have not indicated that they will join this signature-gathering effort. Without their help, which would include professional signature gatherers, the SB48 ballot referendum effort will be more difficult than Prop. 8.

“If someone wrote a million-dollar check, we would be guaranteed to get this on the ballot,” said PJI President Brad Dacus, according to The Associated Press. “That’s not the case at this point … We are counting on people in churches and communities and families making the extra effort to get it done.”

Although SB48 is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, California state education officials say they don’t expect the new law to be fully implemented until 2015-2016, at the earliest, according to AP. State budget problems are causing a delay in immediately rolling out new textbooks.

The innovator of SB48 is state Sen. Mark Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco.

On the Web: Stop SB48 campaign

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