The state of California now has a law that requires social studies classes to cover the contribution of gay and lesbian citizens to the state's and nation's history. California's governor, Democrat Jerry Brown, said that the law, "revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books." Opponents of the bill argue that public schools are charged with teaching basic educational skills, such as reading and math, and resisted a measure that they felt would inject values into textbooks that many parents may oppose.
There are many topics that were once off limits that are now routine. In addition to the heroic founding fathers, students now learn in more detail the plight of slaves in the founding of America. The notion of manifest destiny is now balanced by stories of genocide against native Americans. Great capitalists are still revered in social studies classes, but the hard work of immigrant Americans building the nation now receive greater attention as well.
Trying to put aside the particular subject, in this case homosexuality, who determines what, and whose, history should be taught to young people in public schools? Being such a subjective field, how do social studies balance the requirement to teach young citizens versus the beliefs of their families? When are controversial issues benign enough to include in textbooks for younger students?