You've probably heard something by now about the FAIR Education Act – and, if you heard it from school administrators, teachers, or students, you might well have heard: "it's about time!" As recent local news stories across California show, the folks actually affected by the FAIR Education Act are ready and excited to follow the new law, signed by Governor Jerry Brown earlier this month, which will end the exclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history from California’s classrooms.
"History should accurately portray people and events," Laguna Beach Unified School District Superintendent Sherine Smith said in a statement to the Coastline Pilot. "Our history is more complete when we recognize the contributions of people from all backgrounds and walks of life." From teachers to parents, other Laguna Beach community members echoed this support, agreeing that “it will teach [young people] that it’s ignorant to marginalize anybody who they see as ‘different.’”
Superintendent Smith was not the only school official, nor was Orange County the only region, featured in recent local news articles demonstrating support and readiness for the new law.
Yucca Valley High School Principal Carl Philps told the Hi-Desert Star: “All textbooks and instruction materials should be all-inclusive and not biased toward any group. We need to come to grips with ourselves as a society and make sure we’re not discriminating against anyone. I think they’ll come out with new textbooks and we’ll be OK. We need to hold those publishers accountable too.”
Auburn, too, is eager for the change. According to the Auburn Journal:
Christy Dyer, a teacher at Placer High School who acted as the adviser for the Gay Straight Alliance Club, said she thinks it’s sad that there needs to be legislation to include everyone equally in history, but she hopes the new information will encourage others.
“When something comes out in a textbook … it sends a message to someone who might be from a marginalized group that their contributions are as important as anyone else’s, and it gives them a sense of self confidence,” Dyer said. “It gives them strength and it also helps with bullying.”
And what about fears that FAIR will be difficult for school teachers and districts to implement? Jane Escobedo, director of educational services for Petaluma City Schools, answered that concern in a conversation Petaluma360.com: “I don't foresee any such problem. We're pretty much on top of things already. Petaluma elementary schools have the Caring School Community program that teaches kids to respect all people with differences, and secondary schools have the Human Interaction program that deals with bullying in the schoolyard and cyberspace. They'll just require a little tweaking to include SB 48 guidelines for specific ages and grade levels.”
From Auburn to Yucca Valley, California schools are ready to welcome more diverse and inclusive instruction into their classrooms, and they trust the FAIR Education Act to deliver it.