Newsom’s Retaliation Leads To Unanimous Approval Of Gay Rights-Inclusive Curriculum
The Temecula Valley Unified School District in southern California has reversed its stance on a social studies curriculum, following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ultimatum.
The district had initially voted to reject the curriculum due to concerns over references to gay rights activist Harvey Milk, but after Newsom’s move to slam them with a hefty $1.5 million fine, they unanimously approved the material for instruction in Riverside County.
A California school district is avoiding a $1.5M fine after Gov. Gavin Newsom threatened to penalize the district if it didn’t adopt a social studies curriculum including gay icon Harvey Milk.
— NewsNation (@NewsNation) July 25, 2023
The main point of contention was the inclusion of Harvey Milk, the former San Francisco supervisor and prominent gay rights advocate who was reportedly killed in 1978. Some board members felt that his mention in the supplementary material was inappropriate.
Concerns were also raised that parents had not been adequately consulted about the curriculum changes.
The rejection of the curriculum meant reverting to a textbook from 2006, which did not comply with a 2011 state law that made schools teach students about the historical contributions of gay and transgender Americans.
However, Newsom’s retaliation loomed large over the decision. The Democratic governor, who has been the subject of presidential run rumors for 2024, emphasized the importance of providing students with the necessary educational materials, denouncing the opposition’s true motives.
“This has never been about parents’ rights. It’s not even about Harvey Milk – who appears nowhere in the textbook students receive. This is about extremists’ desire to control information and censor the materials used to teach our children,” he said in a statement released on July 21.
“Demagogues who whitewash history, censor books and perpetuate prejudice never succeed. Hate doesn’t belong in our classrooms and because of the board majority’s antics, Temecula has a civil rights investigation to answer for,” he added.
In a prior response to the rejection, Newsom accused three of the school board members of being “political activists” more interested in breaking the law than educating students.
The board’s new recommendation is to use an age-appropriate curriculum compliant with state and federal law, while also maintaining the exclusion of sensualized topics from elementary school grade levels.
For the board, approving the new curriculum was not only about avoiding the hefty fine but also about meeting the legal requirement to teach about the contributions of these communities in American history.