'Pansexual' High School Student Stars in California History Fight

Sixteen-year-old Irene Rojas-Carroll, an activist who calls herself a "pansexual," is the star of a San Francisco Chronicle story on a controversial California bill to mandate that schools pay tribute to homosexual pioneers in their history lessons. Jill Tucker reported:

A controversial bill moving through the state Legislature would change that, requiring social science instructional materials to include the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, as well as Pacific Islanders and those with disabilities.

The measure, SB48, sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would add to existing laws requiring the inclusion of the historical influences of American Indians, African Americans and European Americans among others in the public school social science curriculum.

A long list of religious and conservative organizations has come out vehemently opposed to the measure, including the California Catholic Conference, California Concerned Women for America, the Conservative Party (California) and the Traditional Values Coalition.

Irene said she believes a more inclusive curriculum would help reduce the slurs and bullying related to sexual orientation in schools by helping students understand the diversity of those who contributed to society.

"I would feel that then I was included in the history of America, that I wasn't being blocked out on purpose," said the 16-year-old, who also calls herself pansexual, which means gender doesn't matter to her.

The Chronicle quotes conservative opponents, but as usual, never describes the gay and "pansexual" advocates as liberal or leftish in any way (apparently, they're the San Francisco "mainstream.") The bill's sponsor carries the typical sense of inevitability:

Leno countered that the same religious and moral arguments were used against women's studies and black studies decades ago.

"The genius of our democracy is that it does not allow one interpretation of any one particular holy book to become state law," he said. By ignoring the accomplishments and role of gays, lesbians, disabled people and others throughout time, "we are currently censoring history."

Leno noted that specific content used in curriculum textbooks would be determined by the state Board of Education and local school boards, through the public process.

The curriculum, for example, might include the fact that Harvey Milk was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California just as it includes that Willie Brown was the first African American speaker of the Assembly, according to the legislative analysis of the bill.

The measure, as Irene hopes, is intended to address bullying related to sexual orientation by educating children about people's differences, Leno said.  

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