As a state, California has adopted a fresh take on history: A person’s sexual identity is what matters more than what that person does.
The state’s board of education has approved ten textbooks that it has deemed “inclusive enough,” and rejected two others that were not, including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt*, one of the top textbooks producers in the United States.
Via the Los Angeles Times:
The rejected textbooks failed to abide by California’s 2011 FAIR Education Act. The law, written by former state Sen. Mark Leno, requires that schools teach about historical figures who were LGBT or who had disabilities.
Equality California’s executive director, Rick Zbur, called the board’s decision a “long-fought victory.”
“Approval of these textbooks means that California schools will now have access to approved materials that accurately represent LGBTQ people, and Equality California applauds the State Board of Education for this historic decision,” Zbur said.
Okay. Cool. LGBT people have contributed to society. This isn’t something that’s up for debate. Likewise, straight people have. White people also have contributed, as well as black, Asian, Hispanic, and other groups.
But, there are two problems here. The first is that we are still addressing the issue of Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican who, as a Senate candidate, is having to face allegations that he sought relationships with teenagers in his thirties. Many people, including myself, who are thoroughly creeped out by the age difference and, more specifically, the age of the girls in question.
Kindergarten is for five-year-olds. Eighth grade is for 13- to 14-year-olds, typically, which is right in the lower range of the girls Moore was (is?) attracted to. Children between five and 14 years old are not mentally, socially, or emotionally equipped to fully understand sexuality, much less engage in a relationship that will almost certainly include sexuality.
If we are to agree on that, and Heaven knows many folks on the Left outraged by Moore do, then how can we also argue that they are fully equipped to deal with homosexuality, bisexuality, or transsexuality?
The second problem, which ties into the first, is that children at this age don’t need to know sexual preference in order to understand what a person has contributed to society. That Emily Dickinson was a lesbian or that Walt Whitman was gay in no way changes the fact that “A Noiseless, Patient Spider” is one of the best poems I read in high school or that every Emily Dickinson poem can be read to the tune of “Yellow Rose Of Texas.”
This shouldn’t matter in education. Kids sure as hell don’t really care, unless they’re being raised by little activists at home (in which case they’re going to end up being libertarians when they grow up), and you’re getting in the way of real education when you toss activism into the mix. What you end up doing is muddying the waters and confusing who someone identifies as with what they did.
It means very little to children. It may mean more in college, where you can really dive into the psychology behind what people do or write. In elementary and middle school? They care about what is written or what happened, what it means, and how you can extend your knowledge of the subject matter. Sexual identity doesn’t help with those goals. It just confuses the kids as to what the goals are.
*Let’s also throw out there that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is a way better publisher than McGraw Hill.