The Bedroom in the Classroom

Though my mastery of Greek mythology is not strong enough to know off-hand the
muse of history’s sexual orientation, I do know that Clio might try to persuade
her father to hurl thunderbolts from Mt. Olympus into Sacramento as punishment
for defiling her beloved discipline.

The crime?

On July 14, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 48, which
dictates that California schools adopt instructional materials in social
science classes that emphasize "the role and contributions of … lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender Americans" in history.

When considering the myriad ways such a law tramples on parental rights and
academic legitimacy, it is hard to know where to begin. However, since the law
will be celebrated by some as a triumph of inclusivity, perhaps it should be
noted it solves no conceivable problem currently plaguing California.

Regarding inclusivity, California law already bans discrimination in
instructional materials based on "race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national
origin, or ancestry." Not content with banning discrimination, earlier
California legislators already mandated emphases on the contributions of both
men and women as well as "Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican
Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans" and other ethnic and cultural
groups in California textbooks and curriculum.

In other words, it is hard to imagine that historically significant lesbian,
gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans are not already being included. The
real change here is that while those in the "LGBT" crowd used to scream for
others to "stay out of their bedroom," they now demand that their bedroom be
put in everyone’s classroom.

The absurdity of the law can be seen when considering that despite the
proclivity of lowbrow boasting, rarely does a person’s bedroom behavior
actually make the person worthy of historical veneration—a fact that
undoubtedly contributes to so many students finding history class "boring." In
fact, when a person’s sexual activity might actually be germane, it is almost
always for scandalous reasons; and, ironically, this probably couldn’t be
covered since negative associations with a person’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, or
transgender identity is specifically banned by the law. Therefore, according to
this new law, sexual preference rather than actual historical significance will
determine inclusion.

All of this means that rather than relying on historians and teachers to do
their jobs—stem the tide of cultural and historical ignorance—California
politicians have rushed in and demanded that historians and teachers (K-12)
waste time endorsing sexual preferences rather than covering their actual
subject. And, yes, the law makes no distinction for age or grade
level—including, assumedly, little Johnny’s and Suzy’s kindergarten class.

Such action makes sense only in a bizarre world where political "leaders" of an
economically bankrupt state ignore pressing needs in order to tilt at
politically correct windmills. Sweetening the irony is the fact that the
legislators’ usurpation of others’ jobs (and dereliction of their own) places
more financial burdens on their already strapped school system by demanding the
purchase of new textbooks and curriculum.

Of course, the tragic ironies of SB 48 do not end with economics. Proponents of
SB 48 trumpet the law as "anti-bullying," but "bullying" is the mildest term
one could have for a law that dictates public teachers trample the values of
millions of parents, children, and taxpayers in addition to disregarding their
own professional opinions and personal beliefs.

For those thankful that their residency insulates them from the folly of
California legislators, it is important to remember that despite laws to the
contrary, the United States does have a national curriculum. That curriculum is
created by textbook companies, which must cater to high population states.
Thereby, while the nation need not fear the actions of Wyoming’s legislature,
which publishers will ignore, California’s de jure educational mandates often
become the de facto curriculum for the entire country.

Selecting historical subjects through a myopic lens of sexual preference is
simply bad history—a crime egregious enough to outrage Clio. Furthermore, for
freedom lovers nationwide, it is also outrageous educational practice and
heinous lawmaking.

— Dr. Jason R. Edwards is an associate professor of education and history at
Grove City College and a fellow with [2]The Center for Vision & Values.

[3] | [4]


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