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New gay bill causing a stir among some Christians

Brittney M. Walker | 8/24/2011, 5:38 p.m.

Some sectors of the religious community have been in an uproar since Gov. Jerry Brown approved SB 48, otherwise known as the California Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act.

The new law, which was passed on July 14 this year, amends "the Education Code to include social sciences instruction on the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people."

The bill was originally proposed by Mark Leno of San Francisco, an openly gay Democratic senator.

"Most textbooks don't include any historical information about the LGBT movement, which has great significance to both California and U.S. history," he said last year. "Our collective silence on this issue perpetuates negative stereotypes of LGBT people and leads to increased bullying of young people. We can't simultaneously tell youth that it's OK to be yourself and live an honest, open life when we aren't even teaching students about historical LGBT figures or the LGBT equal rights movement."

Despite Leno's efforts, opposition is heavy and the religious community is not backing down.

Pastor Xavier Thompson of Southern Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, is leading a coalition of religious leaders in the community across denominational and racial lines to fight for what they believe is an injustice and obstruction to morality.

The group is petitioning the community to come together on the issue and repeal the law and give voters the power to make their opinions known.

"Gov. Jerry Brown considered (passage of the bill), a step forward. I think it is a step backward as it relates to our children and the moral fabric of our society," the preacher commented. "It's a step backward because when you begin to legislate such issues as they relate to LGBT and gay history, you ask yourself, what's next?

"Politicians should deal with politics. We have educators and scholars who should be responsible for the curriculum for our children ... You can't take prayer out of schools and replace it with mandatory LGBT curriculum."

But the LGBT community is adamant about gay education, because many believe that it will prevent bullying and give gay students the support they want and need.

"We've seen it over and over; LGBT youth are harassed and bullied in schools at the hands of those whose fear and hate stems from ignorance about LGBT people," said Lorri Jean, CEO of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. "The FAIR Education Act will help to change this dynamic."

She continued: "Accurate history lessons are a key component of creating safe school environments for all kids, especially those who may be or seem different from the majority. As has been true with the leaders of many oppressed groups, the great LGBT trailblazers of the past have been inexcusably closeted by our history books. When all students learn about the accomplishments of such notable figures as Bayard Rustin, Barbara Jordan, Alexander the Great, Tennessee Williams, Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein, Harvey Milk, Billie Jean King and so many others, they will have a more complete understanding of the vibrant diversity of the human race. They will be better prepared to succeed in a society that includes everyone."