SPRINGFIELD Students in Illinois public schools would learn about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Illinois and U.S. history because of a measure approved by the Illinois House of Representatives, according to Equality Illinois on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.
The Inclusive Curriculum Bill House Bill 246 would ensure the inclusion of the contributions of LGBTQ people in the history curriculum taught in Illinois public schools. The bill passed the House today with a vote of 60-42. The bill's next step is consideration and passage by the Illinois Senate, which approved the same measure in 2018 with bipartisan support. Illinois would be the third state to adopt such a law.
Sponsored in the Illinois House by State Rep. Anna Moeller ( D-Elgin ), 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.
"I was proud to work with Equality Illinois to pass the Inclusive Curriculum Bill in the House," said Rep. Moeller. "This legislation will ensure that our schools are providing a more comprehensive and accurate teaching of history and creates a more welcoming, tolerant, and safe environment for all of our students in Illinois. It also affirms the dignity and contributions of LGBTQ individuals and the movements that have shaped the world we live in today."
"As a former first grade teacher, I know how an inclusive education system can create change within a community," said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. "By including information in public school curriculum about the contributions of LGBTQ people and the historical events they were involved in, we will get closer as a state to telling the whole story of our shared history. We are so appreciative of Rep. Moeller's bold leadership and the support of the Illinois House of Representatives."
"This bill is vital to so many organizations' work to improve school climate in districts across Illinois," said Rodrigo Anzures-Oyorzabal, Policy and Advocacy Manager for the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance. "We have repeatedly seen the positive effects of curricular inclusion on both LGBTQ+ identified students and students who do not identify as LGBTQ+. This bill is only a piece of our work to create a greater school climate, but it's a vital one."
"We applaud the sensitivity and the political courage the Illinois House has shown in passing this pivotal legislation. Illinois is on the right side of history with this important, life-saving bill," said Victor Salvo, Executive Director of the Legacy Project. "In our work, we know how difficult it can be to break through the redaction of LGBTQ people from humanity's story and the consequences of that redaction on our kids. To deny a child information that could give them hope, that could help them feel less alone, help them feel like they matteredwhile at the same time condemning them to hearing bigoted slurs in the hallways of their schoolsis a cruelty that every feeling adult has a responsibility to stop."
The Illinois School Code presently ensures 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.
"An inclusive history will affirm for LGBTQ students that people just like them existed and made significant contributions to society," said Johnson. "This inclusive history will also benefit non-LGBTQ students, who would be taught the whole story about the achievements of LGBTQ people and the historical events that impacted all of us."
From an Equality Illinois press release
About Equality Illinois
At Equality Illinois we envision a fair and unified Illinois where everyone is treated equally with dignity and respect and where all people live freely regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. We work hard to promote legislation to protect the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning ( LGBTQ ) individuals; maintain the visibility of LGBTQ issues; oppose legislation which seeks to limit the civil rights of the LGBTQ community; and expand statewide grassroots support.