Illinois lawmakers approve bill on LGBTI history lessons in public schools

A rainbow of colored pencils Illinois

Lawmakers in Illinois have approved plans to introduce the teaching of LGBTI history in public schools.

The bill will see schools across the state including ‘the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State’ in K-12 textbooks.

Advocates of the bill believe it will help combat prejudices by teaching inclusivity from a young age.

‘We think all students are better off when we teach them the full breadth of history,’ said Brian Johnson, the CEO of the LGBT organization Equality Illinois, while discussing the bill last year.

‘It makes them more likely to understand that a diverse cast has contributed to our society.’

The measure had previously been approved by the state Senate by a vote of 34-18 in May last year.

It will now proceed for final approval by the state’s Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker before being signed into law, The Hill reports.

‘He answered with the truth’

Illinois is working alongside Massachusetts and California in pioneering LGBTI education in US public schools.

A staunch supporter of the Illinois bill is Democratic Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz.

Gong-Gershowitz says that 15 years ago, her brother had been denied tenure at a Chicago public school discussing issues of sexuality with his students.

‘He was subjected to hate mail and called into the principal’s office to explain why he answered a student’s question honestly,’ she says.

‘My brother was teaching history and a student asked whether the historical figure there was the subject of the lesson was gay. He answered with the truth.’

Rep. Gong-Gershowitz says that had the bill been in place at the time, her brother would not have experienced such backlash nor denied tenure, NPR reports.

However, the measure has encountered opposition from Republican members of the House and Illinois’ Christian organizations.

Republican State Representative Tom Morrison, said: ‘Here’s what parents in my district said, “How or why is a historical figures’ sexuality or gender self -identification even relevant? Especially when we’re talking about kindergarten and elementary school history.”‘

Laurie Higgins, a member of the Christian organization Illinois Family Institute, said that the measure was an attempt by ‘the left’ to ‘normalize homosexuality’.

Author: Calum Stuart

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