Public schools in Illinois will soon teach LGBTQ history as part of the official curriculum!
Starting in July 2020, public schools in Illinois will be required to include LGBTQ individuals in history lessons and use textbooks that feature the roles of people protected under the state’s Human Rights Act. The measure is part of a bill that Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law on Friday.
The new curriculum will feature topics such as the Society for Human Rights, the nation’s first gay rights organization, which formed in Chicago in 1924, as well as the lesbian astronaut Sally Ride, who was the first US woman in space.
Sen. Heather Steans, who co-sponsored the bill, says that she hopes it will promote acceptance of the LGBTQ community. Almost 70 percent of LGBTQ students in Illinois have been verbally harassed over their sexual orientation, per a 2015 survey.
“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 said in a statement.
Steans, whose own child is trans, also understands how meaningful this representation will be for LGBTQ youth.
“Feeling accepted and seeing yourself in the history books just makes a difference to your own self esteem,” Steans told Illinois Public Media News. “I’m very pleased we were able to get this done.”
Illinois is the fifth state to introduce such a measure, after California, Colorado, New Jersey and Oregon.