Inland voices divided over mentioning gays in textbooks – Alexa Vaughn

Cathedral City resident Jose Sarria, the first openly gay candidate for public office and a legendary San Francisco drag queen, might be mentioned someday in California’s school textbooks.

Next month, the Democrat-controlled Legislature will give final consideration to a bill requiring California’s K-12 textbooks to mention lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their contributions to state history.

The measure, authored by state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, passed the Senate with only Democratic votes this year. It is pending in the Assembly, where it has the support of Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles.

“Right now, there’s an effort to exclude (gays and lesbians) in textbooks, so their reputation to children is that gay and lesbians never did anything good,” said Kuehl, who in 1994 became the first openly gay legislator elected in California.In 1961, Sarria ran for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors but did not win.

Opponents of the bill do not think discussion of sexual orientation has any place in the classroom.

“We’ve received over 15,000 letters opposing this bill, more letters by far than on any other bill or issue in my life,” said state Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta, who voted against the bill in May.

Sarria, 83, who challenged sodomy laws in the 1950s, called the bill a civil-rights issue whose time has come.