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National Park Service to launch study identifying LGBT landmarks, events in U.S. history

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NEW YORK (AP) - Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced Friday at the Stonewall Inn, scene of the riots widely credited with starting the modern gay rights movement, that the National Park Service will begin marking places of significance to the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

The shift comes after years of debate about how LGBT people fit into America's historical narrative and whether they should be included in textbooks. In 2011, California state legislators passed a first-in-the-nation law requiring public schools to teach students about the contributions of LGBT Americans in state and U.S. history.

The park service is convening a panel of 18 scholars who will be charged with exploring the LGBT movement's story in areas such as law, religion, media, civil rights and the arts. The committee will identify relevant sites and its work will be used to evaluate them for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, designation as National Historic Landmarks or consideration as national monuments, Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said.

Jewell said that the struggle for civil rights continues and that "part of the job of the National Park Service is to tell this story."

The process mirrors efforts the service already has undertaken to preserve and promote locations that reflect the roles of Latinos, Asian-Americans and women in U.S. history.

The scholars' study, which is expected to be completed by 2016, is being financed with $250,000 from the Gill Foundation, a major donor to gay civil rights causes.

Stonewall, where the riots took place in late June 1969, was made a national historic landmark in 2000. June is widely celebrated as LGBT Pride Month.

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