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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Lawmakers Consider Measure To Develop More 'Ethnic Studies' Curriculum

Oregon DOT

Oregon students would learn more about the history of ethnic and social minorities under a measure being considered by state lawmakers.

The measure would require the Oregon Department of Education to develop standards for social studies instruction that incorporates the history and contributions of people of color and social minorities including people with disabilities and members of the LGTBQ community.

One of the bill's sponsors is Democratic Rep. Diego Hernandez of Portland. He said the goal is that students from those backgrounds "see themselves as the fabric of this county, and not as separate from it.”

The bill defines "ethnic minorities" as Native American or Americans of African, Asian, Pacific Island, Chicano, Latino or Middle Eastern descent. And "social minorities" as women, people with disabilities, immigrants, refugees and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

During a hearing in the House Education Committee, Republican Rep. Carl Wilson of Grants Pass questioned the need for social minorities to be included in the bill.

"It would be a rather easy sail in my district to look at a bill that is about ethnic minorities, but it is a much larger barrier to cross when you put in the mix social minority status as well," Wilson said.

The bill would give the state four years to develop the curriculum. The cost of the measure has not yet been determined.