Yesterday, the Illinois Senate introduced a plan to start including LGBTQ history in school curriculum. The plan would require schools to teach a unit on the historic contributions of LGBTQ folks in both the country and the state of Illinois.
In a quote from the Associated Press, Brian Johnson, CEO of the LGBTQ organization Equality Illinois said, “We don’t think there is true justice for the LGBTQ community unless we can learn about our own history.” Johnson also mentioned that this new plan would be consistent with the current curriculum policy that requires students learn about the contributions of different racial minorities.
Here are a few LGBTQ figures in Illinois history that they could potentially learn about:
Pearl M. Hart, one of the first female attorneys in Chicago to specialize in criminal law. She focused specifically on anti-gay police violence.
Larry McKeon, the first openly gay member of Illinois General Assembly. He was also HIV-positive.
Valerie Taylor, an author in the lesbian pulp fiction genre. She was prominent in feminist and LGBTQ activist causes from the 1950s through the 80s.
It’s beyond time for students to start learning about LGBTQ history. Partially because the gay students should be able to feel like they have a place in their history, but also because it’s important for straight people to learn and this isn’t a fad for anything, we’ve always been here.