Friday, March 22, 2013
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- The California Department of Education is expanding its list of recommended reading for kindergarten through 12th grade students to include newly published works dealing with sexual identity issues.
The list of more than 7,800 recommended books is meant to prepare students for college and the ever-changing world.
The Department of Education just updated the list, and included for the first time are winners of the Stonewall Book Awards, which recognize lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender literature.
"It's good to teach kids that everyone is different, and we are all people and that we can all be accepted for who we are. I think it's really great to see these books being recommended," said Spencer Douglas of the LGBT Youth Task Force.
The books are recommended according to age and range from young kids' activity books celebrating gay rights leader Harvey Milk, to books for older kids like " I am J," a novel about transgender teens, and "Totally Joe," which is about a boy coming out.
Social Conservatives are appalled. They say such topics promoting alternative lifestyles have no place on the state's official reading list.
"Your children are not being taught rigorous academics or critical thinking. They're being taught social engineering that will hurt them physically and emotionally," said Randy Thomasson, executive director of SaveCalifornia.com.
The new books titles are recommended, not mandatory, and the state insists they were not chosen because of their LGBT themes.
"It's not based on the content at all actually. It's mostly based on the quality of the literature," said Lupita Alcala of the Department of Education.
"It could be non-fiction, fiction, biographies and poetry. We hope that they actually get excited about reading and writing," she said.
"I've seen the Harvey Milk activity book and it doesn't really make a big deal over Harvey Milk's sexual orientation. He was a guy that really stood up for everyone," Douglas added.
The list also includes newly published works on immigration, such as "De Donde?," a book that talks about the reasons why people come to the U.S. illegally.
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