Small Wonders: Honor them for what they've done

July 22, 2011|By Patrick Caneday

You know what I like best about Sequoia National Park? The fact that conservationist John Muir walked off its dusty trails and into a warm bed with a woman.

What inspires me most about Neil Armstrong? That a straight man was willing to take one small step for mankind.

Why do I appreciate the Declaration of Independence? Because the Founding Fathers proudly wore heels, Capri pants and powdered wigs when they signed it.



But now that I have your attention: Should a person’s sexual identity be the criteria by which we measure their brave, noble and unselfish accomplishments?


Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the FAIR Education Act into law. It amends existing state law, which required public school social science instruction to include “a study of the role and contributions of both men and women to the development of California and the United States.” Beyond just men and women, the amended law now includes Native, African, Mexican and Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, persons with disabilities, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

It’s the last four groups, the LGBT Americans, that have fur flying, in case you were wondering.

The amended law also prohibits educators from promoting “a discriminatory bias on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, nationality, [or] sexual orientation.” And it makes it illegal for public schools to adopt textbooks and instructional materials “that contain any matter reflecting adversely upon persons on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, nationality, [or] sexual orientation.”

These latter two regulations should go without saying. I see nothing wrong with prohibiting from the educational system the negative, discriminatory portrayal of any group of people. Frankly, I’m surprised this wasn’t law sooner.

But the legal requirement to include notable figures into social science curricula based simply upon their sexual orientation smacks of political correctness gone one step too far.

My opposition to just this part of the new law is not based upon “traditional” or “family” or conservative values. Nor is it based upon my religious faith. I’ve used my weekly 800 words here in the past to support the rights of those seeking same-sex marriage and to denounce what I see as so much un-Christian rhetoric and hate speech from my brethren in the faith.

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