July 27, 2023

In southern California, a school board with conservative views has changed its decision and given the green light to a social studies curriculum that acknowledges gay rights activist Harvey Milk. This came after Governor Gavin Newsom warned them of a $1.5 million fine.

Earlier, the Temecula Valley Unified School District had rejected the curriculum as some of the board members were worried about the supplementary material that mentioned Milk, who was a former San Francisco supervisor and a champion of gay rights.

However, the board has now unanimously agreed to include the material in the curriculum for teaching in Riverside County.

In addition to the reference to Milk, some board members also said parents needed to be adequately consulted about the curriculum.

Newsom, a Democrat who has been rumored to run for president in 2024, had a change of heart just two days after threatening the district with a $1.5 million fine.

In a statement on Friday, Newsom expressed gratitude for the provision of essential learning materials to students. However, he also highlighted that the vote on the curriculum had exposed the real intentions of those who opposed it.

He clarified that the issue was not about the rights of parents or the inclusion of Harvey Milk, who is not mentioned in the textbook. Instead, it is about the extremists’ agenda to manipulate information and regulate the educational resources used to instruct our kids.

If the district rejects the curriculum, it will have to resort to using outdated textbooks published in 2006. However, these textbooks do not align with a state law passed in 2011 that mandates schools to educate students on the historical significance and contributions of gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans.

The board unanimously approved the curriculum on Friday night during a special meeting. Furthermore, they tasked the interim superintendent with reviewing the curriculum section concerning gay rights and the legalization of same-sex marriage in California.

The board has recommended a new curriculum that is age-appropriate and compliant with state and federal laws. Additionally, the board is firmly committed to keeping any sexualized topics out of elementary school education.

The decision to vote was not a response to Newsom’s threat but rather an attempt to prevent a lawsuit, according to Board President Joseph Komrosky.

During Friday’s meeting, Komrosky stated that he acted independently and with authority as a sovereign citizen in the United States of America, separate from the authority of Gov. Newsom. He also warned that legal action would be taken if the curriculum was not provided.

The school board rejected the new social studies curriculum, but Newsom threatened a $1.5 million fine. He accused three board members of prioritizing law-breaking over educating students. Newsom often publicly spared with Republicans, such as Ron DeSantis, who plans to run for president in 2024.

Last week in Florida, the state Department of Education updated the Black history curriculum to align with a law signed by DeSantis. The revised curriculum includes teachings on the history of slavery in the United States, highlighting how enslaved individuals developed skills that they could sometimes use to their own advantage.