The Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Education Act, sponsored by gay San Francisco Democrat Mark Leno, passed on a 23-14 party line vote Thursday, the Desert Sun of Palm Springs reported.
After passage in the Democratic-controlled Assembly and singing by Gov. Jerry Brown, both of which seem likely, California would become the first state to make curricula include notable gay Americans along with the contributions of women and various ethnic groups.
Shaun Travers, a San Diego activist, told San Diego 6: "It's very important that we represent all of California and that includes the LGBT community. Our people and our history."
But opponents said the move would add non-essential material to already-short instruction time.
"I'm deeply troubled kids would have to contemplate at a very, very early age, when many of us are teaching abstinence, what is sexuality," said Republican Sen. Doug La Malfa.
"If it is passed we will find the most appropriate way to do it," said Kathy Felci of the Desert Sands Unified School District. "Everything would depend on the guidelines that we receive."