The 10 Percent: New law mandates changes in social studies


Editor’s note: Brian Ratto, 27, is a Manteca native living in Stockton. He’s also a gay man. Ratto came out more than a decade ago. In doing so, he joined an estimated 10 percent of the country’s homosexual
population. This column is written from his perspective and does not reflect the opinion of The Collegian staff.

As a native Californian, my grade-school experience started in San Joaquin County classrooms.

In my education, though, particularly after coming out at 16, the studies often had little to do with me in general.

We studied Chinese New Year. We studied Black history. We studied the women’s suffrage movement.

We didn’t study Harvey Milk. We didn’t study Barbara Gittings.

Nowhere in my teachings was their mention of the many influential lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgendered people who have changed the culture and climate of America.

That will change soon.

Recently Gov. Jerry Brown signed S.B. 48 the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act into law. This makes California the first state to mandate that social studies include Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) history, and accomplishments.

The opposition to this law claim requiring the teaching of this history will promote homosexuality. It may force students to become gay, they say.

No. It won’t.

The law only requires history books to add the struggle of the LGBT community to the civil rights section.

Leaders like Milk, who redefined San Francisco politics before being assassinated and opened the door for other openly gay politicians, will be studied.

Currently the “Stop S.B. 48 Campaign” is working to repeal the law. The campaign has been petitioning to get the initiative on the June 2012 state ballot.

Remember, once upon a time people actually thought touching a gay man could give you AIDS.

That wasn’t the truth either.

You can argue that statement is hyperbole. But the truth, the truth that I know is, some people view homosexuality as a plague.

Learning about the actions of the LGBT community is just as important as learning about other subpopulations currently taught.

To me, it’s about time.

In fact, it shouldn’t have taken this long.