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Gay Pride Values Not Included in Textbooks That May Land in CT Classes

June 16, 2010

HARTFORD, Conn. - June is "Pride Month," and the values of self-acceptance and awareness of the history and contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community are clashing with recent decisions surrounding textbooks that could make it into Connecticut classrooms.

The controversy is over the Texas Board of Education's latest decisions about what to include in – and exclude from – textbooks used in public schools, recommendations adopted by many other states. Kim Miller, with the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective, says leaving out LGBT struggles has negative consequences.

"In the way that LGBT people are ignored, it's harmful to really what our concern is – LGBT youth, who lose not only pertinent information about their historical figures, but really, their role models, which keeps people in the closet and is detrimental to mental health."

The conservative Christian majority on the Texas board voted to emphasize the contributions of conservative politicians and entrepreneurs, and downplay or leave out contributions of the women's movement and racial and gender minorities.

Tom Murphy, spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Education, says textbooks that adhere to the Texas board standards may be adopted here, but those decisions are up to each of the 166 local school boards. According to Murphy, electronic publishing and other technologies have made many schools less dependent on mass-produced textbooks.

"As we move forward, textbooks become less and less relevant. They're important, absolutely, but children learn in many different ways and with many different media."

In the meantime, Miller says Pride Month is a time to celebrate her organization's slogan: "Be well. Be yourself."

"Building stronger relationships and inserting honesty into the ones that exist previously with family members and good friends – who hopefully will be around as these people come out – and Pride Month really encourages that. 'Come out and stay out,' is really the slogan."

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT