Category Archives: Schools

We made history!

Beloved community, we did it!

The California State Board of Education (SBE) just voted to adopt only those textbooks which reflect LGBT roles and contributions in history and social sciences – per the 2011 FAIR Education Act – making California the first state in the nation to adopt LGBTQ-inclusive textbooks for use in K-8 education!

LGBT inclusive curriculum advocates at California Dept of Ed

Pictured in the lobby of the California Department of Education, November 9, 2017: Bish Pleez, Capitol LGBT Association; Renata Moreira, OFC; Krystal Torres-Covarrubias; Rob Darrow, Safe Schools Santa Cruz County; Rick Oculto, OFC; Polly Pagenhart, OFC; Carolyn Laub, FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition; Judy Appel, Berkeley Unified School District School Board; Callisyn Zielenski, OFC.

I wrote you last in late September, following the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) meeting. They had just reviewed the textbooks that would be forwarded on for final adoption by the SBE. At that time, the IQC accepted every one of the edits proposed by the FAIR Education Act Implementation Committee, helmed by Our Family Coalition. If made, those edits would ensure our state’s instructional materials included LGBTQ roles and contributions in accordance with the FAIR Education Act.

We had worked hard to ensure that the IQC recommendations would be accepted at this final meeting. What we didn’t know was that the approval would be unanimous, and that ultimately every single publisher did everything they could to get on the right side of this history because of our collective advocacy and expertise. The new materials also expand lessons on the diverse, multicultural heritage of California and the importance of our state as a place of promise for all people, including immigrants and people with disabilities.

After thanking the FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition for “showing us at the California Department of Education the path to justice and equality,” Tom Adams, Deputy Superintendent of Schools, called the adoption of these textbooks:

“One of the greatest reforms in the history of education in California!”

We couldn’t agree more. Here’s the California Department of Education’s press release on the decision.

After we sweep up the celebration confetti: back to work on the next chapter! In the coming months, school board after school board up and down the state will be launching into their examination of these textbooks and deciding what’s right for their community.

It’s going to be a big job: over six million California public school students are educated by nearly 300,000 teachers in over 1,000 school districts. We are more than ready for it: in collaboration with educators and partners across the state, and with the support of community members like you, we’ll ensure that every student in California has access to fair and accurate portrayals of the LGBTQ community and our contributions.

Join us in writing this next chapter of California’s history by donating what you can, and by contacting us at education@ourfamily.org to see where your passion can connect with this movement.

With pride and joy,

Renata Moreira
Executive Director, Our Family Coalition

P.S. Again, we need the support of members and allies to continue advocating for full LGBTQ-inclusive textbook adoption by districts across the state. Your support will allow hundreds of teachers to receive the training they need to bring these new materials to our families and students. Won’t you pitch in today to help us continue working hard to advance inclusive education? Thank you, from the bottoms of our hearts.

CA APPROVES LGBT-INCLUSIVE TEXTBOOKS FOR ADOPTION BY STATE BOARD OF ED

Last Friday we were thrilled to issue the following Press Release, along with our partners in the FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition (available also as a PDF here):

SAN FRANCISCOOn Thursday, September 29th, the California Department of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) voted to approve 10 History-Social Science K-8 textbooks which were inclusive of the LGBT content mandated by the state’s 2016 History-Social Science Framework. Most were approved conditional upon edits provided by the FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition, a group of LGBT advocacy and educational organizations formed to ensure implementation of the state’s 2012 FAIR Education Act, which requires the inclusion of the political, economic, and social contributions of LGBT people and people with disabilities in California textbooks.

The IQC also voted to reject the two textbooks that did not include the content, and whose corrective edits represented such a substantial portion of the text as to be considered a re-write of content, impermissible at this stage of the review process.

FAIR-Ed-supporters

Parents, teachers, FAIR Ed Act organizational partners, and a middle schooler, following the August 17, 2017 Instructional Quality Commission meeting.

“We are very pleased with the responsiveness of most of the publishers, and with the care the Commission took to abide by the state subject matter Framework and Social Content Standards,” said Carolyn Laub, an educational consultant working with the FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition. Laub, along with Professor Don Romesburg of the Committee on LGBT History and Our Family Coalition’s Education team, helped provide research and analysis of the textbooks.  

The group notes, however, that it will keep advocating for changes to one of the recommended textbooks, which continues to fall short of Framework guidelines.  “We’re grateful to the IQC and to the majority of publishers involved for taking our concerns into account, but Studies Weekly fails to include reference to Native American ‘two spirit’ people in Grade 4, and continues to exclude LGBT families in Grade 2, both of which are stipulated by the Framework,” says Renata Moreira, Executive Director of Our Family Coalition, a lead organization of the FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition.

“Ensuring that LGBTQ people, families and their contributions to our nation and communities are fully represented is crucial to making sure that students in California schools are safe, accepted and free from bullying,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California, which sponsored the FAIR Education Act in 2011. “It’s one thing to get a law passed, but another to make sure that everyone – from those who publish the materials our children learn from to those who teach that material – understand and live up to their responsibilities under the law.”

The History-Social Science Framework requires that: “Through studying the stories of a very diverse collection of families, such as families headed by solo parents, immigrant families, families with lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender parents and their children, extended families, families with disabled members, families from different religious traditions, and adoptive families, students can both locate themselves and their own families in history and learn about the lives and historical struggles of their peers.”

“We cannot simply offer our students and future generations a few token references; they deserve fodder for rich, critical thinking, that allows them to understand the true diversity of California,” said Moreira.

The IQC recommendations now go to review by the State Board of Education, to be considered and ratified at meetings in November.  At that point, the textbooks become approved for purchase by schools statewide.

The FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition is led by Our Family Coalition and includes Equality California, GSA Network, The Committee on LGBT History, Los Angeles LGBT Center, ACLU, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Transgender Law Center, and the Safe Schools Project of Santa Cruz County.

Our Annual LGBTQ-Inclusive Preschool & Kindergarten Fair: an SF Tradition

by OFC Education Director Tarah Fleming

Our Family Coalition’s 5th Annual LGBTQ Inclusive Preschool & Kindergarten Fair was an incredible success!

Over 35 schools set up display tables at San Francisco Day School to show off their teachers and curriculum that foster respectful learning environments for all families. Over 90 caregivers strolled through with toddlers and infant carriers to have introductory conversations with school leaders. Families learned about the different community partners that worked together with Our Family Coalition to host this important and informative evening. The San Francisco Library displayed books featuring all kinds of families, and Community Well served fresh scones and berries while informing caregivers about the free classes they host for parents. San Francisco Unified and Parents for Public Schools took the mic and talked about the school enrollment process and People of Color in Independent Schools shared about their upcoming workshops.

As we enter into an era more aware and inclusive of LGBTQ families in schools, it is important to remember that it is also a time where the opposition is feeling emboldened to try and limit visibility, access and even rights. For this reason OFC is fully committed to creating spaces like the LGBTQ Inclusive Preschool & Kindergarten Fair, which also compliments the work of the FAIR Education Act, signed into law in 2011 and designed to ensure LGBTQ People are fairly represented in California public school curriculum and text books.

As we continue to engage families, teachers, community partners and school leaders in the work of creating equitable and just schools for all, we are reminded of the values many of us learned in kindergarten; love yourself and love others. This is much easier to do when your family is not only reflected back to you in all your school books, but loved and respected by the entire school community.

Check out the schools that participated here.