It remains a mystery how area schools will address a new state law that requires teachers to acknowledge contributions by gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 48 on July 14, which requires classroom instruction about contributions by gays in American history all the way from kindergarten through 12th grade.
The law takes effect on Jan. 1 of next year, but revised texts won't be completed until at least 2015 because of a moratorium on new textbooks due to state budget cutbacks.
It's questionable, however, whether there will be any instruction regarding the history of gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgender people, commonly known as LGBT people, when the new year rolls around.
"Until we get some further direction, there is not much for school districts to do," said John Gordon, president of the Galt Joint Union High School District board.
Local school officials say they're waiting for curriculum direction from the California Department of Education, but a spokeswoman there said there will not be any direction in the near future.
School districts can use supplemental materials if they want to comply with SB 48, but nothing will come directly from the state, said Veronica Aguila, an administrator with the state Department of Education's instruction resources unit.
There is a lot of flexibility on how to comply with the legislation, Aguila and state Sen. Mark Leno said, but local school officials should gain a lot of input from teachers and parents first.
"It's really about history, not about sex, and that's where the confusion comes in," Leno, D-San Francisco, who authored SB 48, said in a telephone interview with the News-Sentinel.
A spokeswoman from Leno's office said that even though SB 48 takes effect next January, it doesn't mean that compliance is required by that time.
Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani, D-Livingston, who has announced her candidacy for the new 5th Senate District that will include Lodi and Galt, said she supported SB 48, primarily due to the suicide of an openly gay student at the University of California, Merced, which is in her current Assembly district.
Adam Wood, 19, hanged himself from a 75-foot-high utility tower off north Highway 59 outside Merced, according to the Merced Sun-Star. Wood's body found on March 23, but he was reported missing two days earlier, the newspaper reported.
"We have seen problems of bullying across the nation," Galgiani said. "It's my way of saying to (gay people) that they have value; you have things you should look forward to. They're our kids. It hurts me to think about the young gay person who takes their life because of who they are."
Leno said that the bill may be intended for K-12 classes, but he doesn't envision instruction until fourth and fifth grades, when history is in the curriculum.
"The lesson plan will be decided at the local school district level," Leno said.George Neely, Lodi Unified School District's board president, and Karen Schauer, superintendent of the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District, questioned their ability to comply with SB 48's requirements because it's an unfunded mandate by the state.
"Somebody's going to have to pay for them, too, whether it's a controversial area or not," Schauer said.
Neely added that school districts need to focus more on complying with state-adopted standards for reading and math.
"We have a limited amount of time, and we need to work on meeting the (state reading and math) standards," Neely said.
Leno's spokeswoman said that complying with SB 48 can take as little as 20 minutes out of an entire school year.
Jamie Anaforian, a history and psychology teacher at Tokay High School in Lodi, said she opposes SB 48 because teachers shouldn't be required to state a historical figure's sexual preference.
"Perhaps during a unit on civil rights, I would want to share the actions of specific influential LGBT persons," said Anaforian, who is also adviser for the school's Gay-Straight Alliance, a club consisting of gay students and straight people who support them.
"But as a matter of course, when teaching historical figures or events, to single out a specific individual solely because he or she was LGBT doesn't seem appropriate or advantageous — or relevant — for that matter," Anaforian said in an email.
"How does who you choose to have a romantic relationship with at home impact what a person does for our country?" she added.
Leno explained why he thinks the history of homosexuality should be included in the curriculum.
"I use the example that there was an African-American man named Martin Luther King Jr., who fought for civil rights and was assassinated for his efforts," Leno said. "There was also a gay man named Harvey Milk, who fought for civil rights and was assassinated for his efforts."
Democrat Tom Torlakson, of Antioch, state superintendent of public instruction, supports SB 48.
"Our history is more complete when we recognize the contributions of people from all backgrounds and walks of life," Torlakson said in a news release.
"All students will benefit when we teach of the broad diversity of the human experience. We know there is a phenomenon of bullying, so these kids are talking about this issue. They are subject to insults on a daily basis," Leno said.
"We will teach children how to better get along with each other, and that is what education is all about," he added.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.