The following comes from a March 20 story on

The California Department of Education this week released its latest list of recommended reading for K-12 students, including some newly published works that address immigration and sexual identity issues.

While the state list has addressed controversial topics before, this is the first time it included works that were honored by the Stonewall Book Awards, which have been given out since 1971 to recognize contributions to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender literature.

“We have titles in the list for the LGBT community for multiple recommended grade levels,” said Roxane Fidler, the CDE’s education programs consultant. “There are books from the Stonewall Book Awards, which has not previously been on the list,” Fidler said.

The online catalog, Recommended Literature: Pre-Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve, contains more than 7,800 books meant to prepare students for college, a career and the changing world, Fidler said. Because the newest titles were published in 2012, some of the included books embrace today’s cultural and civil rights challenges. It was last revised in 2008.

The state-approved canon comprises fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama. None of the previous book recommendations were deleted, and new additions include De Donde?, a book that offers alternative reasons for why people come to the United States illegally, and I am J, a book about the emotional plight of transgender teens.

A spokesperson for Equality California, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization, said his organization is thrilled.

“We applaud Superintendent Tom Torlakson for including these books,” spokesman Stephan A. Roth said. “We think this is consistent with the spirit of the FAIR Education Act, which is a new law that mandates that the role and contribution of LGBT people is included in our state education curricula. ”

Some conservatives, however, disagree with the inclusion of texts they see as liberal and promoting alternative lifestyles.

Sandy Rios, host of a morning radio show on American Family Radio or AFR Talk, called this list of titles “appalling. ”

“It’s a frightening trend,” Rios said in an interview. “The reading lists are very overtly propagating a point of view that is at odds with most American parents. Leftist educators are advocates of everything from socialism to sexual anarchy. It’s very base; it’s raping the innocence of our children. ”

But Fidler said the works are not mandatory reading and they are chosen based on quality not ideology.

There are “no controversial books,” Fidler said. The teachers, librarians, administrators, curriculum planners and college professors who curated the list rarely had trouble deciding whether a well-written book should not be included because of its topic, she added.

“We never censor the list because it’s a list of recommended literature. It’s not a requirement that the literature be read or taught. We want to put out all literature that is of quality and of interest that someone might have an interest in reading,” she said.

The new reading list consolidates three other literature lists: science and mathematics; history, social science; and the visual and performing arts. Now parents, educators and school districts have one searchable resource to turn to, Fidler said.

Because the list is so new, the Los Angeles Unified School District declined to comment, other than noting that the district has its own policies for choosing specific books within the state policy.

In the next academic year, however, its schools will have to implement the Common Core State Standards, a state-led national effort that includes 45 states, two territories and the District of Columbia.

“A lot of districts and county offices will use the list to guide them in selecting literature, but they don’t have to use any title on the list. They have local policies for how to choose books,” Fidler said.

The online catalog is available at

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