Friday saw a win for the LGBTQ community and all children in the Illinois public school system when Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill that makes sure LGBTQ history will be added to the curriculum. It will go into effect in July 2020.
“In public schools only, the teaching of history 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 bill states.
House Bill 246 was introduced by Rep. Anna Moeller to amend the school code to add LGBTQ history into the curriculum, including events like the 1942 forming of the nation’s first gay rights organization, the Society for Human Rights, and Sally Ride, the first US woman in space, who was a lesbian.
Equality Illinois, which is the state’s most prominent and largest LGBTQ rights organization, is in full support of the groundbreaking bill and said that the new and improved curriculum can have a “positive effect on students’ self-image and make their peers more accepting.”
“One of the best ways to overcome intolerance is through education and exposure to different people and viewpoints,” State Sen. Heather Steans, who also sponsored the bill, said in a statement on her website earlier this year. “An inclusive curriculum will not only teach an accurate version of history but also promote acceptance of the LGBTQ community.”
Textbooks that schools purchase in the future also have to be inclusive and diverse.
The bill states that 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.”
“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,” Steans told CNN. “LGBTQ children and teenagers will also be able to gain new role models who share life experiences with them.”