Republicans demand parents get ‘opt-out’ from LGBT history lessons

San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk, a pioneering gay activist who was assassinated in 1978.

Republican state lawmakers have said parents should get an ‘opt-out’ from history lessons that relate to LGBT public figures.

Rep. Darren Bailey, who represents the 109th district in the Illinois House of Representatives, made the claim as the body approved a bill on the issue.

HB0246, which passed the House by a vote of 60 to 42 on Wednesday (March 13), expands education guidelines that state history lessons in Illinois public schools should reflect the “contributions of all people.”

In addition to existing guidance that states “the teaching of history shall include a study of the role and contributions of African-Americans and other ethnic groups,” the bill adds that lessons should reflect “the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State.”

Republicans want ‘opt-out’ from history lessons

Bailey, one of the 42 lawmakers who cast a vote against the law, said that parents should be able to pull their children out of history lessons about LGBT+ people.

According to the Pontiac Daily Leader, Bailey said he opposed the bill “because it does not provide an ‘opt out’ option for parents who do not wish their children exposed to this kind of information for religious reasons, or because their child may not be of a mature enough age to fully understand the meaning and implications of what LGBT actually is.”

LGBT history: A newspaper from 1969 hangs in New York's Stonewall Inn, considered the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement, where patrons fought back against police persecution in 1969.

A newspaper from 1969 hangs in New York’s Stonewall Inn, considered the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement, where patrons fought back against police persecution in 1969. (Drew Angerer/Getty)

He added: “Forcing that information on 5 year olds and elementary school children is more of an effort of indoctrination.”

Another opponent, Republican lawmaker Rep. Tom Morrison also complained that “there’s no parental opt-out” from history lessons.

However, Democrats insist lessons would be based on “historical facts.”

LGBT+ history bill backed by Democrats

The bill’s sponsor, Anna Moeller, said: “Let’s give LGBT students a safe inclusive and welcoming environment and ensure that all of our students have an accurate and improved history and understanding of how LGBT individuals and movements have contributed and shaped our world today.”

The law now heads to the Illinois Senate, which backed a previous bill on the issue in 2018.

If approved again by the Senate, the bill will then head to the desk of the state’s Democratic governor J. B. Pritzker, a supporter of LGBT+ rights who was endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign.

It would take effect in July 2020.

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn pledged in 2016 to put LGBT history on the school curriculum.

He said: “As part of our commitment to equality and inclusivity we will advance LGBT+ inclusion in the education system by updating the national curriculum to reflect LGBT+ historical figures and LGBT+ rights.

“[We will] work with schools to promote a safe and inclusive environment for LGBT+ young people and encourage the adoption of inclusive practices and language to ensure that LGBT+ students achieve positive educational outcomes.”