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Should History Textbooks ‘Out’ LGBT Figures?

By next fall, millions of K-8 students in California schools may be learning from history textbooks that astronaut Sally Ride was a lesbian, Walt Whitman was gay, and a Gold Rush-era stagecoach driver named Charley Parkhurst was born a woman but lived as a man.

California earlier this month became the first state in the country to adopt textbooks that highlight the contributions of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender to the development of the state and country.

As education officials debated the content of the books, LGBT advocates clashed with some publishers about how to describe the sexual orientation of people who in the past did not “out” themselves. With the adoption of the books, California set a precedent, one historical researchers continue to wrangle over.

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