Rainbow flag and blue skies rSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) is continuing her effort to introduce an inclusive curriculum to Illinois schools that celebrates the contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Steans’ law requiring public schools to include the contributions of LGBTQ individuals in their history curricula became law today.

“One of the best ways to overcome intolerance is through education and exposure to different people and viewpoints,” Steans said. “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. Steans also thanked the efforts of advocates like Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, the Legacy Project and Equality Illinois for helping to raise awareness of the need for LGBTQ historical figures to be recognized similarly.

“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. “Also, thank you to Rep. Moeller and Sen. Steans, our fierce champions in the General Assembly. Your bold and unrelenting leadership and advocacy will benefit our youth for decades to come. As a former first grade teacher, I know how an inclusive education system can create change within a community. With this law, we will get closer as a state to telling the whole story of our shared 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.

“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,” 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 July 1, 2020.

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