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California to mandate LGBT inclusion in curriculum

Bill would add disability, sexual orientation and gender identity to gender, race and other classes protected by existing state law.

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Jerry Brown, California, gay news, Washington Blade

California Gov. Jerry Brown. (Photo by Phil Konstantin)

On Thursday, after veto fears, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the historic FAIR (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful) Education Act, authored by openly gay California state senator Mark Leno. The first law of its kind in the nation would compel schools to include some LGBT history in their curriculum. The state already mandates the representation of other under-represented groups in curriculum, and this act merely adds gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender to the classes covered by existing law.

As the most populous state in the nation, and one of the nation’s largest textbook buyers, California’s decision will no-doubt influence textbooks in school districts outside of the state as well, possibly influencing attitudes toward gay and lesbian historical figures in schools across the nation.

According to Leno’s office, “the bill ensures that the historical contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and disabled individuals are accurately and fairly portrayed in instructional materials by adding these groups to the existing list of under-represented cultural and ethnic groups already included in the state’s inclusionary education requirements.”

“There is no room for discrimination of any kind in our classrooms, our communities or our state,” said Dean E. Vogel, president of the California Teachers Association in the same statement from Sen. Leno’s office. “We believe that curricula should address the common values of the society, promote respect for diversity and cooperation, and prepare students to compete in, and cope with a complex and rapidly evolving society. SB 48 does that by helping to ensure that curricular materials include the contributions of persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans to the development of California and United States.”

The California-based National Center for Lesbian Rights called it “one of the most important bills our community has ever championed.”

“The Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act — authored by Senator Mark Leno, sponsored by Equality California and Gay-Straight Alliance Network, and drafted with the help of NCLR — will help make schools safer for LGBT youth,” NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell wrote in a statement Thursday. “It will ensure that LGBT people and issues are no longer left out of history and social science classes, and that all students have an opportunity to learn about the contributions of LGBT people throughout our history.”

According to some advocates, research indicates students who learn about LGBT people experience safer school environments for LGBT youth.

“In schools where the contributions of the LGBT community are included in educational instruction, bullying declined by over half and LGBT students were more likely to feel they have an opportunity to make positive contributions at school,” Equality California touted in a statement, Thursday. “The FAIR Education Act will bring classroom instruction into alignment with existing non-discrimination laws in California and would add the LGBT community to the existing list of underrepresented cultural and ethnic groups, which are covered by current law related to inclusion in textbooks and other instructional materials in schools.”

Some activists feared Governor Brown would be unwilling to sign the first-of-its-kind legislation, and many organizations and bloggers posted calls to action for the California LGBT community this week, encouraging supporters of the law to call and lobby for the Governor’s signature. Strong opposition to the bill formed in the days before its signature, and many anti-gay groups attempted to mobilize their memberships to pressure the Governor to veto the bill. In the end, the Governor opted to make history in California.

The full text of the bill follows.

BILL NUMBER: SB 48 ENROLLED
BILL TEXT

PASSED THE SENATE APRIL 14, 2011
PASSED THE ASSEMBLY JULY 5, 2011
AMENDED IN SENATE MARCH 29, 2011

INTRODUCED BY Senator Leno
(Principal coauthor: Senator Kehoe)
(Principal coauthors: Assembly Members Ammiano, Atkins, Gordon,
and Lara)
(Coauthors: Senators Alquist, Hancock, Lowenthal, Pavley, Price,
and Yee)
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Allen, Blumenfield, Fong, Galgiani,
Hayashi, Huffman, Bonnie Lowenthal, Mendoza, Portantino, and Yamada)

DECEMBER 13, 2010

An act to amend Sections 51204.5, 51500, 51501, 60040, and 60044
of the Education Code, relating to instruction.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

SB 48, Leno. Pupil instruction: prohibition of discriminatory
content.

Existing law requires instruction in social sciences to include a
study of the role and contributions of both men and women and
specified categories of persons to the development of California and
the United States.

This bill would update references to certain categories of persons
and additionally would require instruction in social sciences to
include a study of the role and contributions of lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and
members of other cultural groups, to the development of California
and the United States.

Existing law prohibits instruction or school sponsored activities
that promote a discriminatory bias because of race, sex, color,
creed, handicap, national origin, or ancestry. Existing law prohibits
the State Board of Education and the governing board of any school
district from adopting textbooks or other instructional materials
that contain any matter that reflects adversely upon persons because
of their race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin, or
ancestry.

This bill would revise the list of characteristics included in
these provisions by referring to race or ethnicity, gender, religion,
disability, nationality, and sexual orientation, or other
characteristic listed as specified.

Existing law prohibits a governing board of a school district from
adopting instructional materials that contain any matter reflecting
adversely upon persons because of their race, color, creed, national
origin, ancestry, sex, handicap, or occupation, or that contain any
sectarian or denominational doctrine or propaganda contrary to law.

This bill would revise the list of characteristics included in
this provision to include race or ethnicity, gender, religion,
disability, nationality, sexual orientation, and occupation, or other
characteristic listed as specified.

Existing law requires that when adopting instructional materials
for use in the schools, governing boards of school districts shall
include materials that accurately portray the role and contributions
of culturally and racially diverse groups including Native Americans,
African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, European
Americans, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups to the
total development of California and the United States.

This bill would revise the list of culturally and racially diverse
groups to also include Pacific Islanders, lesbian, gay, bisexual,
and transgender Americans, and persons with disabilities.

Existing law provides that there shall be no discrimination on the
basis of specified characteristics in any operation of alternative
schools or charter schools.

This bill would state the intent of the Legislature that
alternative and charter schools take notice of the provisions of this
bill in light of provisions of existing law that prohibit
discrimination in any aspect of their operation.

This bill also would make other technical, nonsubstantive changes.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. Section 51204.5 of the Education Code is amended to
read:

51204.5. Instruction in social sciences shall include the early
history of California and a study of the role and contributions of
both men and women, Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican
Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, European Americans,
lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with
disabilities, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups, to the
economic, political, and social development of California and the
United States of America, with particular emphasis on portraying the
role of these groups in contemporary society.

SEC. 2. Section 51500 of the Education Code is amended to read:

51500. A teacher shall not give instruction and a school district
shall not sponsor any activity that promotes a discriminatory bias
on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability,
nationality, sexual orientation, or because of a characteristic
listed in Section 220.

SEC. 3. Section 51501 of the Education Code is amended to read:

51501. The state board and any governing board shall not adopt
any textbooks or other instructional materials for use in the public
schools that contain any matter reflecting adversely upon persons on
the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability,
nationality, sexual orientation, or because of a characteristic
listed in Section 220.

SEC. 4. Section 60040 of the Education Code is amended to read:

60040. When adopting instructional materials for use in the
schools, governing boards shall include only instructional materials
which, in their determination, accurately portray the cultural and
racial diversity of our society, including:

(a) The contributions of both men and women in all types of roles,
including professional, vocational, and executive roles.

(b) The role and contributions of Native Americans, African
Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders,
European Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender
Americans, persons with disabilities, and members of other ethnic and
cultural groups to the total development of California and the
United States.

(c) The role and contributions of the entrepreneur and labor in
the total development of California and the United States.

SEC. 5. Section 60044 of the Education Code is amended to read:

60044. A governing board shall not adopt any instructional
materials for use in the schools that, in its determination, contain:

(a) Any matter reflecting adversely upon persons on the basis of
race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, nationality, sexual
orientation, occupation, or because of a characteristic listed in
Section 220.

(b) Any sectarian or denominational doctrine or propaganda
contrary to law.

SEC. 6. It is the intent of the Legislature that alternative and
charter schools take notice of the provisions of this act in light of
Section 235 of the Education Code, which prohibits discrimination on
the basis of disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity,
religion, sexual orientation, or other specified characteristics in
any aspect of the operation of alternative and charter schools.

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CDC echoes call for MSM to limit sex partners in monkeypox guidance

Controversial guidance also issued by WHO

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CDC is calling on men who have sex with men to limit their sexual partners.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is now echoing the controversial call for men who have sex with men to limit their sexual partners amid the monkeypox outbreak.

The agency made the call as part of new comprehensive monkeypox guidance issued on Friday, which lists “limit your number of sex partners to reduce your likelihood of exposure” as among several ways to reduce risk, with vaccination at the top of the list.

Vaccination is an important tool in preventing the spread of monkeypox,” the guidance says. “But given the current limited supply of vaccine, consider temporarily changing some behaviors that may increase your risk of being exposed. These temporary changes will help slow the spread of monkeypox until vaccine supply is adequate.”

The call to limit partners was previously made by the World Health Organization and has been controversial as observers say it may stigmatize sex among gay and bisexual men, who are disproportionately affected by monkeypox.

Demetre Daskalakis, deputy director of the White House task force on monkeypox, outlined the new guidance on Friday in a conference call with reporters.

Asked by the Washington Blade whether the Biden administration agrees with WHO about the need for men who have sex with men to limit their sexual partners, Daskalakis alluded to the multi-faceted aspects of the CDC guidance.

“It mentions that folks should consider reducing multiple partners and anonymous new partners as one strategy to prevent exposure to monkeypox,” Daskalakis said. “So I think really, there’s a broad range, and I think one of the things that’s really important about the CDC guidance is it’s designed to really meet people where they are and see what we can do to have individuals to create their own prevention plans, understanding that there’s not one answer for preventing monkeypox, that it requires a lot of domains to really achieve the goal of preventing new infections.”

Vaccinations for monkeypox are a key component of the CDC guidance, even though the limited availability has not kept up with the growing demand for the shots as the outbreak continues. Daskalakis conceded on the call there is “supply and demand mismatch” for vaccines, but maintained the Department of Health & Human Services announcement declaring monkeypox a public health crisis would be a tool to address the shortage.

A key concern among reporters on the call was the Biden administration not emphasizing the disease is almost exclusively at this point affecting gay and bisexual men, as well as concerns about stigma and misinformation about monkeypox.

Daskalakis, drawing on his experience as a medical expert during the HIV/AIDS crisis, emphasized stigma should play no part in messaging.

“I know from my own experience in public health and personally that stigma is actually what drives so much of infection and really creates false starts and false information that really gets people to go down paths that end up really vilifying people’s lives and behavior,” Daskalakis said. “And so, coming from the experience, both professionally and personally, it is my mission, to not allow stigma to be a part of this or any response that I work on.”

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Alabama

University of Alabama allows students to use “chosen names” on student ID

“Having something that accurately reflects who you are as a person and how you want to make sure that the world sees and respects you is obviously monumentally important, right?”

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Students, faculty and campus members at University of Alabama are now able to put their preferred names on mobile Action Cards, which are the official campus ID cards, for free.

The university’s assistant director of communications Shane Dorrill wrote in email that this option, available on physical cards for several years, will be available online as well after a software update.

ACT Card communications specialist Courtney Petrizzi said the ACT Card office recognized the importance of having the feature, which was previously available on physical cards, on mobile ACT Cards. 

“This change is an update that we created to reflect our campus community’s needs,” Petrizzi said. 

The Action Card office announced this change on May 19. They updated the policy in partnership with UA Safe Zone, a resource center for LGBTQIA+ individuals and their allies on campus. 

Eli Strong, one co-founder of UA Safe Zone said during an interview with AL, “Having something that accurately reflects who you are as a person and how you want to make sure that the world sees and respects you is obviously monumentally important, right?” 

Strong is a transgender man who graduated from University of Alabama. He believed that this change is important because it’s a safety issue. It’s a way for the university to acknowledge people and a way for people to feel affirmed by the documentation they carry around each day.

“It’s an exploratory time where you should be focused on learning and not be focused on the fear of being misgendered or harassed because of who you are,” Will Thomas, one of the co-founders of the University of Alabama LGBTQ+ Alumni Association, claimed that affirming documentation can help students have a positive experience.

This policy change comes after a series of anti-gay lesigilations passed in Alabama, including the Don’t Say Gay amendment and transgender bathroom restrictions.

Campus members can use Action Cards for various daily needs, such as meal plans and dining dollars, building access, sporting and entertainment events and health center access.

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U.S. declares monkeypox a public health emergency

Number of cases of disease among MSM climbs

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Secretary of Health & Human Service Xavier Becerra declared on public health emergency on monkeypox.

The United States has designated monkeypox a public health emergency as the number of cases of the disease, which has primarily affected men who have sex with men, continues to climb.

The news was first reported by the New York Times. Secretary of Health & Human Services Xavier Becerra announced he’d declare monkeypox a public health emergency in a conference call on Thursday with reporters.

“I will be declaring a public health emergency on monkeypox,” Becerra said. “We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus.”

Robert Fenton, the recently appointed White House National Monkeypox Response Coordinator, said amid criticism the Biden administration has been too slow in responding to monkeypox the new declaration would open up opportunities in confronting the outbreak.

“The public health emergency will allow us to explore additional strategies to get vaccines and treatments more quickly out in the affected communities, and it will allow us to get more data from jurisdictions so we can effectively track the suffering,” Fenton said.

During the call, Becerra said an estimated 6,600 cases of monkeypox have been reported throughout the country, and more than 600,000 vaccines have been delivered to localities. The United States, Becerra said, now has the capacity to administer 60,000 tests for monkeypox each week.

The Biden administration has faced criticism for not moving quickly enough to collect and distribute and for not more explicitly naming gay and bisexual men as being primarily affected by the disease. The New York Times reported this week the Department of Health & Human Services failed to act early on bulk stocks of vaccine.

“The government is now distributing about 1.1 million doses, less than a third of the 3.5 million that health officials now estimate are needed to fight the outbreak,” the Times reported. “It does not expect the next delivery, of half a million doses, until October. Most of the other 5.5 million doses the United States has ordered are not scheduled to be delivered until next year, according to the federal health agency.”

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, has been among the critics of the Biden administration’s approach to the outbreak.

Although the Biden administration has issued a rudimentary plan on monkeypox, Burr said in a statement the Department of Health & Human Services hasn’t laid out an effective plan to Congress.

“I have asked HHS repeatedly for their strategic plan to combat monkeypox and have yet to receive an answer,” Burr said. “On July 13, I sent a letter to Secretary Becerra asking detailed questions about the outbreak and the Biden administration’s response. In the three weeks since that letter was sent, monkeypox cases have increased by more than 470 percent to 6,617 reported cases today. Still, the administration continues to stonewall Congress.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended the Biden administration’s early approach to the monkeypox Thursday under questioning from CNN during the regular briefing with reporters.

“Within two days of the first confirmed case of monkeypox in the U.S., we began deploying vaccine to states and jurisdictions and prepositioning tens of thousands of additional doses in the Strategic National Stockpile,” Jean-Pierre said. “The initial science led us to believe…based on recent past monkeypox outbreaks, that those doses would be sufficient to meet the needs of the country as what we knew at that time.”

Jean-Pierre added, however, infections diseases are dynamics and inherently predictable and the Biden administration “quickly moved” to order tens of thousands of new doses when officials saw that happening with monkeypox.

Asked by CNN whether President Biden think his administration acted urgently in its approach to monkeypox, Jean-Pierre replied, “What we’re saying to you is that I laid out how dynamic and how rapidly changing this virus has been.”

“So yes, the President has confidence in HHS, and let’s not forget, we just brought on the monkeypox coordinators, the response team, which is also going to make a difference,” Jean-Pierre added.

Jennifer Kates, director of global health & HIV policy for the Kaiser Family Foundation, was among those praising the announcement from the Biden administration.

“Monkeypox is quickly spreading throughout the United States, with significant health implications for those it impacts most – so far, primarily gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men – and limited supplies of treatments and vaccines,” Kates said. “This latest move by the federal government is an important one for providing new flexibilities and allowing federal, state, and local health officials to take additional actions to address the outbreak. “

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