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In an age of divisive language and culture wars, Illinois schools can combat negativity by promoting an inclusive curriculum that celebrates the contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, State Senator Heather Steans said.

Today, such a measure passed the Illinois Senate.

“By teaching students an inclusive curriculum, Illinois classrooms will promote acceptance and a more accurate portrayal of history,” said Steans, a Chicago Democrat and the legislation’s sponsor. “LGBT students will also learn about people who had some similar qualities to them and became historical role models.”

Under Steans’ proposal, students will learn about the contributions LGBT individuals made to Illinois and the United States while learning about history. 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 and disability history.

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.

“I hope that with this legislation, more LGBT students will feel safe at school and that there will be fewer instances of harassment on the basis of sexual orientation,” Steans said.

Under Senate Bill 3249, only public schools in Illinois would be required to teach an inclusive historical curriculum.

The measure passed the Senate with a vote of 34-18. It now moves to the House for further consideration.

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