He referred to Parkhurst in two different parts of his book. In the LGBT section, Jarrett wrote: “Some women and men, such as Charley Parkhurst, chose to spend their lives as a different gender than the one with which they were born ... Women who dressed as men to fight in the American Revolution or the Civil War may have been simply patriotic or they may have also been lesbian or bisexual—but the truth cannot be known. Gender-confirmation medical operations were not possible at the time because medical knowledge was too limited.”
Jarrett also included Parkhurst in a section titled: “Some Notable Pioneer Women,” where he wrote that “She adopted the name of Charley and assumed a new identity as a man ...”
The state board rejected other Houghton Mifflin Harcourt books, for K-6 students, in part because they did not include enough mentions or images of LGBT families, as part of showing the diversity of family life in America.
Although Houghton Mifflin Harcourt could still make the recommended edits and offer the textbooks directly to California schools and districts, a spokeswoman said it does not plan to do that.
“The review period in California provided an additional opportunity to look closely at our programs and make changes that strengthened our content,” said Leah Riviere, the senior communications manager for the publisher. “The national editions will reflect this process, continue to align with our goals and embody the spirit of the FAIR Act for students across the country.”
A K-5 text by McGraw-Hill won approval in part because the publisher agreed to most of the corrections suggested by the commission. But it balked at some of the requested LGBT references to historical figures, saying “they raise complex issues related to academic integrity, including factual verification, language, and readability.”
Instead, the publisher reworded a few of the suggested edits to avoid placing an LGBT label on some historical figures and to make them more understandable to young children.
Edward T. O’Donnell, an associate professor of history at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass., and the creator of the popular podcast on American history In the Past Lane, said it is important that students—whether children of immigrants, gay children, or disabled children—“see themselves in history” and understand people’s differences in the context of the times.
Even with the emergence of “the quintessential family life” in the late 19th century, he said, textbooks should point out there was no single American lifestyle and that nontraditional arrangements developed as the nation urbanized.
Although O’Donnell did not review the California textbooks, he said in the case of more contemporary figures, like astronaut Ride, who chose to be silent about her sexual orientation, how to characterize her is more of “an ethics question, and the answers are far from settled.”
This post appears courtesy of EdSource. Edsource editor-at-large John Fensterwald contributed to this story.