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JuJune 17, 2011
Honorable Julia Brownley
Chair, Assembly Education Committee
1020 N Street, Room 159
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Assembly Member Brownley:
Disability Rights California, a non-profit advocacy organization mandated to advance the human and legal rights of people with disabilities, supports SB 48 (Leno). The bill is set to be heard in the Assembly Education Committee on June 22, 2011.
Disability Rights California supports SB 48 because the bill will help dispel negative stereotypes and encourage diversity. The bill rightfully supports inclusion and respect for the accomplishments and contributions of a variety of individuals and groups, including people with disabilities, in educational settings.
Existing law prohibits instructional material or school sponsored activities that reflect adversely on persons because of their race, sex, color, creed, disability, national origin, or ancestry. Existing law requires instruction in social sciences to include a study of the role and contributions of both men and women and a variety of ethnic and cultural groups to the development of California and the United States.
SB 48 revises the list of prohibited characteristics in this provision to include race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, nationality, and sexual orientation, or other characteristic listed as specified. The bill requires accurate instructional materials that include the historical contributions and role of Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, European Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups.
People with disabilities are the largest minority group in the United States, with 54 million people, 6 million in California alone. Most Californians are largely unaware of the significant historical contributions people with disabilities have made. People with disabilities often face discrimination, segregation, and are portrayed with inaccurate stereotypes. Last year the legislature enacted ACR 162 (Beall), which proclaimed the second week of October as Disability History Week. Among other things, the resolution called on teachers and educational entities to incorporate the contributions of people with disabilities into the curriculum as a way to dispel stereotypes and educate people about the historical contributions of people with disabilities. As amended, SB 48 takes an important step in that direction.
For the aforementioned reasons, we support this bill. Please contact me if you have any questions about our position on this bill.
Disability Rights California
CC: Honorable Co-Chair and Members of the Assembly Education Committee
CC: Marisol Avina, Consultant, Assembly Education Committee
CC: London Biggs, Senior Legislative Assistant, Senator Leno’s office