LGBTQ Classes Now Legal Requirement for Illinois Middle Schools
Democrat Gov. Pritzker signs bill into law forcing state schools to teach 'LGBTQ history'
Teaching LGBTQ classes is now a legal requirement for Illinois state middle schools after Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a new bill into law.
The new legislation signed by Pritzker will force the state’s schools to teach “LGBTQ history” to students by the eighth grade.
Schools are now required by law to teach children about the history of prominent lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and "queer" Americans, according to the New York Post.
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,” according to the new law.
The curriculum will include topics ranging from the country’s first gay rights organization to a spotlight on Sally Ride, the first US woman in space who was also gay, Unilad reported.
“One of the best ways to overcome intolerance is through education and exposure to different people and viewpoints,” sponsor State Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) said.
“An inclusive curriculum will not only teach an accurate version of history but also promote acceptance of the LGBTQ community.”
“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 exclaimed.
“LGBTQ children and teenagers will also be able to gain new role models who share life experiences with them.”
“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,” added State Rep. Anna Moeller.
The bill passed the House by a vote of 60–42 and succeeded in the State Senate 37–17.
Gay rights advocacy group Equality Illinois supported the bill and said the new requirements will have a “positive effect on students’ self-image and make their peers more accepting.”
In a statement, Victor Salvo of Chicago-based Legacy Project said, "to deny a child information that could give them hope" would be "a cruelty that every feeling adult has a responsibility to stop.”
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The LGBTQ-focused lessons will be launched as part of the new curriculum for 2020.
Illinois becomes the fifth state to pass a law mandating schools teach LGBTQ history.