Schools in Illinois to start teaching LGBTQ history in 2020

LGBT history will be taught in Illinois public schools starting in 2020. 

House Bill 246 was signed into law in August 2019 by Governor J.B. Pritzker. The new law takes effect on July 1, 2020. It aims to give schools a more inclusive history curriculum by including history on the contributions of LGBTQ people.

"One of the best ways to overcome intolerance is through education and exposure to different people and viewpoints," Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), co-sponsor when the bill, tweeted back in August. “An inclusive curriculum will not only teach an accurate version of history but also promote acceptance of the LGBTQ community.”

Currently, Illinois schools are required to teach students about the role and contributions of African-Americans and other ethnic groups, as well as about women’s history, the history of the labor movement and disability history. 

“Thank you, Gov. Pritzker, for signing the Inclusive Curriculum Bill and ensuring that LGBTQ youth in Illinois will now see themselves in the history they are taught. We are excited this bill is now law in 2019 - the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the birth of the modern LGBTQ equality movement,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. 

According to a 2015 survey conducted by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, nearly 70 percent of LGBTQ students in Illinois have been verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation.

“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,” Sen. Steans said. “LGBTQ children and teenagers will also be able to look to new role models who share life experiences with them.”

House Bill 246 takes effect on July 1, 2020.