A bill that would require textbooks for California public schools to include the historical contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people passed the state Assembly on Tuesday by a margin of 49-25.
The proposal passed almost entirely along party lines, with one Republican joining the Democrats to approve the legislation, which is aimed, in part, at combating the bullying of homosexual students.
The bill will now go to the desk of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who has 12 days to either sign or veto the law. So far, the governor is keeping everyone guessing and has made no statements supporting or opposing the issue.
If he signs it, school districts will have until January to tweak their curriculums to reflect the changes. It is not yet clear, however, what new material would be added to the state’s textbooks since budget cuts have postponed updating the books until the 2015-16 school year.
The law refrains from spelling out how teachers should use any new material on LGBT historical figures in the classroom.
The debate in the statehouse leading up to the vote was marked by emotional, heated rhetoric.
“I don't want to be invisible in a textbook,” Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who is openly gay, told his colleagues, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The opposition countered with religious objections and questioned whether the bill was necessary.
“As a Christian, I am deeply offended,” said Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of San Bernadino, who added that the bill promotes "the homosexual agenda."