In a contentious decision, the Temecula Valley Unified School District’s (TVUSD) school board has given the green light to a social studies curriculum, previously rejected, that introduces students in Grades 1 through 5 to the life and legacy of Harvey Milk.
The approved curriculum discusses Milk’s role as a human rights activist and his distinction as California’s first openly gay elected official. However, the decision has sparked debate, as Milk was also accused of predatory behavior around teenagers, raising concerns about the appropriateness of teaching young children about him.
Initially, the TVUSD board voted 3-2 against using the updated textbook, “Social Studies Alive!” The tide turned when Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) intervened, threatening a hefty $1.5 million fine if the school district failed to comply with a 2011 state law mandating the inclusion of LGBT historical figures in the curriculum.
After twice rejecting a social studies curriculum some members deemed “inappropriate,” the Temecula Valley Unified School District Board of Education unanimously approved the materials.
The new materials will replace a textbook from 2006.
— Spectrum News 1 SoCal (@SpecNews1SoCal) July 23, 2023
According to reports from Fox News, the TVUSD approved the textbook during a meeting on Friday. Nevertheless, they have requested the interim superintendent to review sections pertaining to gay rights and marriage in California.
The objective is to substitute these portions with an “age-appropriate curriculum” that aligns with the board’s commitment to avoid explicit topics in elementary schools while still meeting the state’s requirements.
During the meeting, Board President Joseph Komrosky expressed frustration at the potential of being sued by the government for not adopting a specific curriculum. He clarified that the decision to reconsider the ruling was not driven by fear but by the desire to evade the burden of a lawsuit.
Ultimately, the textbook was unanimously adopted during the second vote. In response to the approval, Gov. Newsom released a statement expressing his relief that students would now have access to the essential materials for learning.
However, he criticized the motives of those who initially opposed the curriculum, denouncing it as an attempt by extremists to control information and censor educational materials. Despite the contentious nature of the decision, Newsom refrained from mentioning the allegations against Harvey Milk.