Starting next year, Illinois public schools will be required by law to include LGBTQ history in their curriculums.
On Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed House Bill 246, which mandates that the subject be taught as of July 1, 2020.
The measure stipulates that students must study “the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State.” The bill also includes similar mandates for African American history and that of various other groups, including Polish, Irish, Italian, Hispanic and Asian Americans.
In keeping with the bill’s objective of promoting a diverse and inclusive history curriculum, it requires that “events related to the forceful removal and illegal deportation of Mexican-American U.S. citizens during the Great Depression” be taught as well.
After the bill passed the state Legislature in May, one of its co-sponsors, Democratic Sen. Heather Steans of Chicago, hailed it as “one of the best ways to overcome intolerance.”
“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,” she said. “LGBTQ children and teenagers will also be able to gain new role models who share life experiences with them.”
In a statement released Friday, Victor Salvo, Executive Director of the Legacy Project, a nonprofit LGBTQ advocacy group, called the measure a “life-saving law” that has placed the state “on the right side of history.”
“To deny a child information that could give them hope, that could help them feel less alone, that could help them feel like they mattered ― while at the same time condemning them to hearing bigoted slurs in the hallways of their schools ― is a cruelty that every feeling adult has a responsibility to stop.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article mistakenly attributed quotes from Victor Salvo of the Legacy Project to Equality Illinois, another LGBTQ advocacy group.