Clovis Unified prepares for LGBT social studies lessons
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Clovis Unified is one of the first districts in the Valley to head back to class this week. And with the start of a new year comes new laws in education. One of the most controversial - the fair act - which requires public schools to teach the contributions of gays, lesbians and other ethnic and religious groups -- in social studies lessons.
Clovis Unified is trying to determine how to incorporate these lessons into its curriculum. That's because current textbooks don't include this information and the law gives school districts discretion as to when and where this content will be taught.
As school districts scramble across the state to determine how to implement the fair education act into social studies classes - Clovis Unified says it's got a game plan.
Dr. Michelle Steagall with Clovis Unified explained, "What we're doing as a district is we are researching what indeed the law entails and requires of school districts."
Research - like talking with parents, teachers and other stakeholders in the community to decide what information is appropriate to teach and at what age.
On Sunday, California became the first state to require public schools to teach the contributions of gays and lesbians - as well as people with disabilities and particular religious groups.
Dr. Michelle Steagall says the only problem is the state budget crisis has put school districts on a moratorium and new textbooks can't be printed until at least 2015.
"So indeed to implement any of the content, school districts will need to look to outside sources," said Dr. Steagall. "And in many cases those outside sources aren't identified, don't even exist."
Steagall says the district will look to it's partners for help. Partners like Fresno State University - which just received a donation of 500 LGBT books and is working on putting together a travelling library to take to Valley schools.
"We want to choose out the best 20 titles to go into high school libraries and give them some information about LGBT titles."
And while some believe learning about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues will reduce suicide rates and bullying in schools - there's a challenge headed for the November ballot that would remove the contributions of the LGBT community from text books.
clovis unified school district, education, linda mumma
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