Illinois schools will now teach ‘valuable’ LGBT history

A classroom. A girl was attacked in a school in Maryland, USA, in March last year

A bill signed into law on Friday (August 9) will ensure that LGBT+ inclusive history is taught in public schools in Illinois.

According to the Illinois general assembly, the bill “provides that in public schools only, the teaching of history of the United States 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 was introduced by state representative Anna Moeller and will come into effect on July 1 2020.

LGBT organisation Equality Illinois said in a press release: “An LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum can have a positive effect on students’ self-image and make their peers more accepting, and it would get Illinois closer to being a state that tells the whole story of our shared history.

“The teaching of history has been set a little too straight. LGBTQ identities have been erased by omission. Now, it is time for our public schools in Illinois to tell the whole story.”

It added that Illinois public schools are already required to teach history that is inclusive of other minorities, “including of people of colour, women, immigrant communities, and people with disabilities,” so the bill is in line with current state law.

Pride Parade in Chicago, Illinois. (KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP/Getty)

Supporters say the inclusive history lessons will give teens LGBT+ role models

State senator Heather Steans co-sponsored the bill, and said in a statement: “One of the best ways to overcome intolerance is through education and exposure to different people and viewpoints.

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

Steans continued: “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.

“LGBTQ children and teenagers will also be able to gain new role models who share life experiences with them.”

The Illinois senate passed the bill in May 2018, and the state house of representatives passed it in March this year. 

California was the first US state to require that LGBT+ history be taught in public schools in 2016.