A governor in Illinois has passed a law which will guarantee LGBTQ+ history will be taught in all public school across the state.
House Bill 246 was introduced by Rep. Anna Moeller to amend school code and add a history curriculum which is more inclusive, it was then signed into law by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker.
Illinois’ largest LGBTQ+ civil rights advocacy group, Equality Illinois, supported the bill, saying it will have a ‘positive effect on students’ self-image and make their peers more accepting.’
The bill states:
Provides that in public schools only, the teaching of history of the United States shall include a study of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State.
The new curriculum will come into effect from July 1, 2020, and will include topics such as America’s first gay rights organisation, the Society for Human Rights, which was formed in Chicago in 1924, and the first US woman in space, Sally Ride, who was also gay.
State Senator Heather Steans, who sponsored the bill, said, via CNN:
One of the best ways to overcome intolerance is through education and exposure to different people and viewpoints.
An inclusive curriculum will not only teach an accurate version of history but also promote acceptance of the LGBTQ community.
The bill also states all textbooks ‘authorized to be purchased 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. Provides that textbooks purchased with grant funds must be non-discriminatory.’
Sen. Steans added:
It is my hope that teaching students about the valuable contributions LGBTQ individuals have made throughout history will create a safer environment with fewer incidents of harassment.
LGBTQ children and teenagers will also be able to gain new role models who share life experiences with them.
The bill will also introduce similar measures for African America history, as well as other groups such as Polish, Irish, Italian, Hispanic and Asian American people, as HuffPost reports.
In a statement on their website, Equality Illinois described the bill as ‘life-saving’, saying:
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.
Illinois is the fifth state in America to enact a bill such as this in their public schools, following California in 2011, and New Jersey, Colorado and Oregon in 2019.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.