An Illinois law requires public schools to incorporate information about the “roles and contributions” of LGBT people when teaching American and state history. Signed into law earlier this month, the legislation will take effect July 2020.
The bill adds language to the School Code mandating the inclusion of LGBT figures in American history education: “In public schools only, the teaching of history 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.”
This requirement adds to the issues students must study in order to graduate from 8th grade. For instance, the School Code already stated that students must learn about a litany of groups: “The teaching of history shall include a study of the role and contributions of African Americans and other ethnic groups including but not restricted to Polish, Lithuanian, German, Hungarian, Irish, Bohemian, Russian, Albanian, Italian, Czech, Slovak, French, Scots, Hispanics, Asian Americans, etc., in the history of this country and this state.” The School Code also already states that students must learn about “the events related to the forceful removal and illegal deportation of Mexican-American U.S. citizens during the Great Depression” and “the role of labor unions and their interaction with government in achieving the goals of a mixed free enterprise system.”
In addition to mandating the inclusion of LGBT figures in history education, the new bill also adds language requiring that textbooks approved for purchase with funding from the State Board of Education must be “non-discriminatory as to any of the characteristics under the Illinois Human Rights Act” and that “Textbooks authorized to be purchased under this Section must include the roles and contributions of all people protected under the Illinois Human Rights Act.”
In addition to race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin and other issues, the Illinois Human Rights Act mentions “sexual orientation.”
The Illinois legislature’s approval of this law was far from unanimous. According to the Chicago Tribune, “The legislation passed 60-42 in the House and 37-17 in the Senate.”
Illinois is not the only state to legislate the addition of LGBT people into public school history education. Accuracy in Academia recently reported about New Jersey legislation that will require public schools to incorporate the contributions of LGBT people into middle and high school curriculum.