Illinois is on it’s way to making history thanks to the Illinois Senate, who passed a bill that would require public schools to include an LGBTQ history unit in their curriculum. Specifically, the bill would require that elementary schools and high schools study a unit on “the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State.”
The bill, which passed 34-18, would make the curriculum requirements similar to those that already exist for women, people of color, immigrants, and people with disabilities. But the specifics of the lessons would be up to individual districts to determine.
Opponents of the bill argue it would violate the religious freedom of the students and their families to be taught about LGBTQ history.
“Schools should teach that we should be respectful of each student and each person,” Ralph Rivera told the State Journal Register. “This is what we all agree on. However, schools should not be used to advocate for lifestyles that are against the religious values of the students and parents.”
Rivera is a lobbyist for Illinois Family Institute, a conservative non-profit listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its views on homosexuality.
Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), who supports the bill, said told Newsweek that she has “worked with opponents and have addressed their concerns about whether it is appropriate for children to learn about LGBTQ history and the implications for religious freedom.”
The bill will now head to the House of Representatives, which currently holds a Democrat majority.
If the bill becomes law, Illinois will be the second state to have LGBTQ curriculum laws on the books. California became the first state to include LGBTQ history in its curriculum in 2017.
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