Christian leaders in Houston are pushing back against a recommendation from Houston Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Richard Carranza to add LGBTQ studies to the system’s U.S. history curriculum.
Carranza, speaking during a meeting hosted by the Houston Defender, a publication focused on the area’s black community, said this week that integrating LGBTQ and ethnic studies into the district’s history curriculum would give students a more well-rounded picture of America’s past, the Houston Chronicle reported.
“The LGBTQ movement in the U.S. has a history, and in many cases, many people would call it a civil rights history in terms of acceptance and in terms of who have been leaders of the movement,” he said. “I think it’s part of the American history. To include that as part of what kids study is just a bigger picture of who we are as America.”
But Houston-area pastors were not too keen on the idea of teaching LGBTQ history to students, which at this point is just a recommendation.
The Rev. Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council, which has in the past led local operations to defeat pro-LGBTQ legislation, said Carranza and those who support adding LGBTQ history to the district’s history program are trying to use the classroom “as a social experiment of a radical political agenda.”
Before moving to Houston, Carranza served as the deputy superintendent and then the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District from 2009 until last year. While he was in California, Carranza oversaw some schools that added an LGBTQ curriculum.
In 2016, the California State Board of Education unanimously voted to add LGBTQ studies to schools’ required history curriculum. The program includes “a study of the role of contributions” of minority groups, including “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
As a result, LGBTQ content will be integrated into elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. For example, starting in fourth grade, young students will learn about “the emergence of the nation’s first gay rights organizations in the 1950s” and the struggles LGBTQ people have faced over the years, including the fight to legalize same-sex marriage.
Welch wants to make sure Carranza isn’t successful in his effort to bring San Francisco policy to Houston.
“Carranza is an import from San Francisco, where this kind of propaganda that attempts to equate sexual lifestyles, gender confusion, and hostility toward the traditional family has become the norm,” Welch said in a statement. “The HISD Board of Trustees needs to remind Dr. Carranza that this is Texas, where the people of all ethnicities still believe that our children are to be protected, nurtured, and educated, not used as a social experiment of a radical political agenda.
“Dr. Carranza, not in our city and not our children,” he continued. “The former mayor of Houston attempted to turn Houston into San Francisco with this same philosophy. Again, this is Houston, Texas, not San Francisco, California.”
Carranza made clear during the Houston Defender meeting that the conversation about integrating LGBTQ studies into the district’s curriculum is just beginning. He said no changes have been made yet, adding that it would take months or even years to fully implement a new curriculum.
The LGBTQ proposal comes as state legislators are poised to debate which restrooms transgender students and teachers should be permitted to use on public school campuses.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has called lawmakers back to the Capitol for a 30-day special session beginning July 18. He is reconvening the Legislature, in part, for lawmakers to reconsider a so-called “bathroom bill” that would require transgender people to use the restroom that correlates with the sex listed on their birth certificates.
Despite the fact that Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, also a Republican, were outspoken advocates for the law, the bill failed during the Legislature’s regular session earlier this year because moderate Republicans rejected it.