The state of Illinois has now made it a requirement for all public schools to teach their students about LGBTQ history.
Under a new law approved by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week, Illinois public schools will begin teaching their students about the contributions of LGBTQ people across the state and the country. The law mandates that schools must update their history curriculum to include lessons spotlighting renowned lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, according to The Chicago Tribune.
The new curriculum is set to launch in 2020 and must be taught to students before they reach the eighth grade, NY Post reports. Lessons include education on the country’s first gay rights organization — the Society for Human Rights, launched in Chicago in 1924 — and a spotlight on Sally Ride, the first US woman in space who openly identified as gay, Unilad reports.
All textbooks “must include the roles and contributions of all people protected under the Illinois Human Rights Act and must be non-discriminatory as to any of the characteristics under the Act,” the bill states.
Some local lawmakers praised the new law.
“One of the best ways to overcome intolerance is through education and exposure to different people and viewpoints,” Democratic state Sen. Heather Steans of Chicago, one of the bill’s Senate sponsors, said in a news release obtained by the Tribune. “An inclusive curriculum will not only teach an accurate version of history but also promote acceptance of the LGBTQ community.”
State Rep. Anna Moeller said in a release that Illinois is the fifth state in the country to adopt a law of this nature.
“The new law’s goal is simple: to understand that people from different backgrounds deserve the same opportunity to learn and be recognized for their contributions in society as everyone else,” Moeller said.
The civil rights advocacy group Equality Illinois supported the bill, noting that it would have a “positive effect on students’ self-image and make their peers more accepting.” In a statement, Victor Salvo, executive director of the Chicago-based Legacy Project, which fosters an appreciation for the contributions of LGBTQ individuals, called the new legislation life-saving.
“To deny a child information that could give them hope, that could help them feel less alone, that could help them feel like they mattered–while at the same time condemning them to hearing bigoted slurs in the hallways of their schools–is a cruelty that every feeling adult has a responsibility to stop,” he said.
The new law made it through the House with a vote of 60-42 and 37-17 in the Senate.
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