SB 48 FAIR Education Act: Boom or Bust

Despite federal approval of marriage for same-sex couples, there continues to be an attitude of resistance to LGBT inclusion. This sentiment is excruciatingly negative throughout numerous communities, as is evidenced by states such as North Carolina with its anti-transgender laws. This sentiment among the citizenry suggests there is little promise for change or inclusion. Yet, while the In re Marriage case was winding its way into the United States Supreme Court, there were those working to implement other strategies for LGBT inclusion. In 2011, legislators in the State of California amended the state’s educational code to require that social sciences curriculum for grades 1 through 12 include “a study of the role and contributions” (California Senate Bill 48) of LGBT Americans. The role and contributions of Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, European Americans, and “other ethnic and cultural groups” was also included within the amendment. However, SB 48 became known as the “gay history law” due to its inclusion of LGBT individuals (Lin, 2011). The outcome projected for such a law would be inclusion of the LGBT minority into the educational curriculum. The impact could be far reaching, ushering in the full acceptance of LGBT individuals into society without restraint or condition.

There is, however, heightened conflict surrounding SB 48 in terms of the civil rights of students. Opposing factions insist that the heteronormative atmosphere within the schools will be disrupted by sexualizing the curriculum. Supporters of the new law insist on the inclusion of LGBT Americans and their contributions to society as members of a greater culture that does not discriminate against sexual orientation but supports all Americans. My interest lies in whether or not the implementation of this law will bring about the expected level of acceptance of the LGBT individual in a heteronormative dominated society. I would assert that this new inclusive curriculum would be simply tolerated just as Black History Month and Women’s History Month are tolerated in October and March, respectively, of each year. To advance my position in arguing for the necessity of an impact evaluation of SB 48, I explain the background of the FAIR Education Act. Additionally, I offer a literature review that considers the various results of inclusion-based curriculum when considering attitudinal shifts. Finally, I consider the implications of implementing an inclusion-based curriculum that works to transform discriminatory educational structures into culturally dynamic ecosystems. My research is driven by a research position that questions whether or not LGBT inclusive curriculum will be enough to dismantle the overarching heteronormative influence that exists within our educational community, dismantling that might produce meaningful changes in the educational community’s ecosystem.


This presentation contributes to the conversation of LGBT inclusion throughout society. This research considers measures, specifically curriculum inclusion, that can be mechanized to suspend the currently entrenched heteronormative message of superiority over Otherness. Considering this, it is prudent to evaluate the possibility of how marriage equality works to potentially undermine the curriculum inclusion effort when the heteronormative majority lashes out in defense of its conception of morality and marriage purity.


Part of panel Queer Youth and Education
October 1, 2016, 16:45–18:30