California Gov. Gavin Newsom has condemned the “offensive” statement by an “ignorant” school board president who called Harvey Milk a “pedophile” during a debate over the book ban.
The bigoted comment came as the Temecula Valley School Board in California voted to reject a social studies textbook with supplementary materials that contained information about Milk, who was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the state. and a pioneering activist for LGBTQ+ rights. .
The school board voted 3-2 on May 16 to reject the books, but they only began to receive attention this week after comments from members were reported by local news outlets.
During the vote, two school board members said they opposed any mention of Milk in textbook supplemental material and made the unsubstantiated accusation that the LGBTQ+ rights icon was a “pedophile,” the Los Angeles Times reported. .
Another member who voted against the inclusive book denounced the discussion of LGBTQ+ people in a book intended for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Temecula Valley School Board President Dr. Joseph Komrosky was among those who voted against the materials and made bigoted accusations against Milk, a local CBS news affiliate reported.
“My question is, why even mention a pedophile?” Komrosky said.
Newsom, the Democratic governor of California, condemned the “offensive statement” by the school board president and said that children should have the “freedom to learn” in a post on Twitter.
“An offensive statement from an ignorant person,” Newsom wrote. “This is not Texas or Florida. In the Golden State, our children have the freedom to learn.”
“Congratulations, Mr. Komrosky, you have our attention. Stay tuned,” he added.
Harvey Milk made history as the first openly gay man in the US to be elected to public office when he was elected to the San Francisco City Board of Supervisors in 1977.
Tragically, a year later, he was murdered by Dan White, another city supervisor who had lost his job.
His legacy as an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights has been celebrated in books, an opera, an Oscar-winning film, and a postage stamp. There is even a Navy ship named after him.
The decision not to proceed with the new curriculum could leave 11,397 students without a textbook next year, KABC reported.
“We’ve never experienced this before,” said Temecula Valley Association of Educators President Edgar Diaz.
“I have never heard of a high performing district or any district saying they know we are going to withhold these materials.”
The school district told the local news outlet that it was expanding a window for community and parent feedback on the textbook materials.
US conservatives have cracked down on LGBTQ+ inclusion in schools.
Several states, including Florida, Alabama and Iowa, have passed laws limiting discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, also known as ‘Don’t Say Gay’ laws. Republican lawmakers across the country have introduced similar laws seeking to ban discussion of LGBTQ+ issues.
Right-wing lawmakers and conservative groups have also sought to ban books with LGBTQ+ characters or themes in schools.
How did this story make you feel?
Thank you for your comments!