Making the Framework FAIR: California’s History-Social Science Framework Proposed LGBT Revisions Related to the FAIR Education Act (2014)

In Fall 2014, the California Department of Education will make history by revising its K-12 History-Social Sciences Framework to bring it into compliance with Senate Bill 48, the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act. In 2011, the FAIR Education Act amended the Education Code to ensure that the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and people with disabilities are accurately portrayed in K-12 history instruction. This report, sponsored by the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History (CLGBTH), an affiliated society of the American Historical Association, proposes revisions related to LGBT history. While the narrowest interpretation of law might require addition of a few token LGBT history-making individuals, this report calls for a more transformational approach. Social science education researchers have deemed a transformational approach the best practice for integrating diversity into frameworks and curricula. Such an approach expands students’ abilities to understand gender and sexuality as changing historical categories and as lenses for historical and contemporary analysis. 

In brief, recommended Framework revisions by grade and theme include:

• Grade 2: LGBT families in the context of understanding family diversity as a contemporary and historical reality
• Grade 4: Central roles played by gender and sexuality in California’s history as a site of rich, contested, and changing diversity
• Grade 5: Variation over time, region, and culture in colonial American practices and laws with regard to gender and sexuality
• Grade 8: Fundamental transformations in gender and sexuality in conjunction with nineteenth-century urbanization and industrialization
• Grade 11: The evolution of modern LGBT communities and identities; twentieth-century persecution of sexual and gender minorities and the growth of the LGBT civil rights movement

Over a dozen historians from around the nation made revision suggestions. They focused on LGBT history but included related material on gender, race, class, and disability. They produced scholarship-supported justifications with suggested resources for teachers. An Executive Committee evaluated revisions and justifications for accuracy, relevance to the U.S. history survey, and grade-appropriate content. The final report had input from 20 leading scholars of LGBT history as well as a number of Californian K-12 educators. Adopting the revisions will make the Framework more accurate, incorporating findings from four decades of professional gender and sexuality history. Related improvements to K-12 curriculum and textbooks will promote an active, responsible citizenry in a diverse society. This report can also serve as a best-practices template for similar efforts toward the inclusion of LGBT history in K-12 education across the country.

Attain the full report here.