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Illinois Passes Bill Making LGBTQ+ History Part Of Public School Curriculum

Sydney Brooman 14 Aug 2019

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has officially signed the LGBTQ Inclusive Curriculum Bill into law, effectively changing the state's public school curriculum to include LGBTQ+ history.

Bill 246 was originally introduced by Rep. Anna Moeller, and supported by Illinois’ largest LGBTQ+ civil rights advocacy group, Equality Illinois, who stated that the bill will have long-lasting positive effects on youth in the community.

The new bill will come into effect in July 2020.

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"Students in Illinois public schools will learn about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in state and national history after approval today of the Inclusive Curriculum Law by Gov. Pritzker," Equality Illinois stated.

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Illinois is the fifth state to enact such legislation.

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They follow California (2011), New Jersey (2011), Colorado (2019), and Oregon (2019).

Topics of study will include America’s first gay rights organization, the Society for Human Rights (formed in Chicago in 1924) and the first U.S. woman in space, Sally Ride, who was also gay.

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One of the biggest aspects of the bill is the amendment to history textbooks.

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"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," the bill states.

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"Textbooks purchased with grant funds must be non-discriminatory."

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State Senator Heather Steans, one of the bill's sponsors, spoke to CNN regarding the importance of the bill:

"One of the best ways to overcome intolerance is through education and exposure to different people and viewpoints," she stated.

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"An inclusive curriculum will not only teach an accurate version of history but also promote acceptance of the LGBTQ community."

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Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson also spoke on the importance of the bill's timing:

"We are excited to pass and enact the Inclusive Curriculum Law in 2019 – the 50th anniversary year of the Stonewall Riots and the birth of the modern LGBTQ equality movement," his statement reads. "As a former first grade teacher, I know how an inclusive education system can create change within a community."

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He also touched on the importance of accuracy and inclusiveness within school curriculum.

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"By including information in public school curriculum about the contributions of LGBTQ people and affiliated historical events," his statement continued, "we will get closer as a state to telling the whole story of our shared history."

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However, the victory is about more than just accuracy of information.

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"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," Equality Illinois continued in their statement regarding the new bill.

What state do you think will be next to introduce this kind of legislation?

h/t: Equality Illinois

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