The Illinois State Senate’s Education Committee advanced a bill on Tuesday by an 8-2 vote that would require public elementary and high schools to teach a unit studying “the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State,” The Associated Press reported.
If the legislation is passed, then Illinois would become the second state to require an inclusive LGBT curriculum, joining the state of California.
“People need to see their history to understand that they are a part of our society,” said Illinois state Sen. Heather Steans (D), who is sponsoring the bill.
“People learn about Jane Addams, for example, but don’t know she’s a lesbian,” said Brian Johnson, CEO of the LGBT organization Equality Illinois. “We don’t think there is true justice for the LGBT community unless we can learn about our history.
The Hill added:
The bill is not too different from current laws that require students learn about other groups such as African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans.
Conservative groups have pushed back against the measure, calling for schools to add dissenting voices of people who oppose “the homosexual movement.”
“The left’s motive is what it always is: it is to normalize homosexuality,” said Laurie Higgins with the Christian organization Illinois Family Institute.
But Johnson argued the proposal is meant to counteract the negativity LGBT students already face in school and society.
“We think all students are better off when we teach them the full breadth of history,” he said. “It makes them more likely to understand that a diverse cast has contributed to our society.”