Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, on Friday, signed into law significant legislation ensuring students in Illinois public schools will learn about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in state and national history.
The Inclusive Curriculum Bill – House Bill 246 – ensures the inclusion of the contributions of LGBTQ people in the history curriculum taught in Illinois public schools. The bill passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 37-17. The measure passed the Illinois House 60-42 in March. Illinois is the fourth state to pass such legislation, after California in 2011 and New Jersey and Colorado in 2019.
Sponsored by State Rep. Anna Moeller (D-Elgin) and State Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), the Inclusive Curriculum Bill is an initiative of Equality Illinois, the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, and the Legacy Project and is supported by more than forty education, health care, and civil rights organizations across Illinois.
The Illinois School Code previously ensured inclusion in history curriculum of the contributions and experiences of other historically marginalized communities, including of people of color, women, immigrant communities, and people with disabilities.
An inclusive curriculum can have positive, affirming benefits and help counteract some disturbing trends. Sadly, in schools across Illinois and the United States, LGBTQ students are told, through bullying, harassment, and exclusion, that they do not belong. These conditions have created a school environment where LGBTQ students are forced to hide their identity simply to protect themselves.
According to GLSEN’S 2017 School Climate Survey, 88% of LGBTQ students in Illinois have heard the word “gay” as a slur. Only 24% of LGBTQ students in Illinois were taught anything positive about LGBTQ people in classrooms.
The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2020.