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Illinois set to become second state to teach LGBT history in schools

Jess Glass April 12, 2018

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Lawmakers in Illinois have pushed forward a bill that would require schools to teach LGBT history to students in the state.

The state looks set to approve a bill that would require all public elementary and high schools to teach “the significant role of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in society.”

It would mean the state will use LGBT inclusive textbooks, as well as dedicating teaching time to LGBT history.

The bill was given its second reading earlier this week and was later supported by the state’s education committee with an 8-2 vote.

The proposed bill would teach pupils about both LGBT history in the US and in Illinois specifically.

However, it does not mandate how much time is to be spent on teaching LGBT history, leaving the decision up to local school boards and authorities.

The bill has been sponsored by state Senator Heather Steans and has been welcomed by LGBT groups in the state.

People need to see their history to understand that they are a part of our society,” Illinois state Senator Heather Steans told The Hill.

Brian Johnson, CEO of the LGBT organisation Equality Illinois, said the bill would help widen pupils’ understanding of the world and promote acceptance of LGBT people.

“People learn about Jane Addams, [the founder of social work as a job in the United States], for example, but don’t know she’s a lesbian.

“We don’t think there is true justice for the LGBT community unless we can learn about our history.”

Chicago Pride (KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

However, conservative groups have hit back against the proposed legislation, with one group calling it an “indoctrination bill.”

“The left’s motive is what it always is: it is to normalise homosexuality,” said Laurie Higgins, on behalf of the Illinois Family Institute.

Related: Founding Fathers and leaders who were LGBT-friendly

If the bill passes, Illinois will become only the second US state to require LGBT history as part of their curriculum.

As of 2018, California is the only state that requires LGBT inclusive history education.

In 2016, the California Board of Education unanimously approved changing instructions given to teachers to comply with a new state law that requires public schools to include historic gay Americans and mark LGBT milestones.

If the Illinois bill is passed, it is expected to be implemented in all public elementary and high schools from this July.

More: Education, Illinois, LGBT history, schools, US

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