Posted by: ACFE Inc | July 7, 2011

The FAIR Education Act

Being a special education advocate I am always thinking about inclusion and accommodation of students. This kind of thinking is not limited just to gifted students or students facing challenges based on disabilities. All kinds of students need support in educational environments to be healthy, whole learners. Support comes in many forms from assistive technology to specialized instruction to simply helping students to feel as if their own identities are represented in the curriculum. This is one reason why I am proud to be involved with Mom Congress, because working with such a diverse group from across the country has helped me think more broadly about what such support for students looks like; it has also helped me to find the resources to help schools and parents provide this support.

On July 5, 2011, the California State Assembly passed the FAIR Education Act. The law seeks to actively include the history and accomplishments of the LGBT community in California’s public school curriculum. It would also prohibit the California State Board of Education from using educational materials that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. According to Equality California, a LGBT civil rights organization (www.eqca.org), studies have shown that inclusion of LGBT people in instructional materials is linked to greater student safety and lower rates of bullying.

“LGBT youth are denied a fair education when they are exposed to harmful stereotypes in classroom materials and are excluded from learning about their history,” said Carolyn Laub, GSA Network’s Executive Director, in the EQCA release. “The FAIR Education Act is a key step in preventing discrimination in the classroom and creating safe, respectful schools.”

It is important that we are always working to make schools inclusive, nurturing, and safe environments for students. The California State Assembly’s legislative action not only supports the education of LGBT students, but decreases danger for all students that might be bullied or mislabeled simply because they are different.  Beyond this, students are getting an incomplete education when particular groups are left out, intentionally or otherwise, from school curriculums.

“We are selectively censoring history when we exclude LGBT Americans, or any other group of people, from our textbooks and instructional materials,” said Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). “We can’t tell our youth that it’s OK to be yourself and expect them to treat their peers with dignity and respect when we deliberately deny them accurate information about the historical contributions of Americans who happened to be LGBT.”

The FAIR Education Act is currently awaiting Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.

Text of the bill here: http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen/sb_0001-0050/sb_48_bill_20110329_amended_sen_v98.pdf

 

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