Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has passed a law that guarantees the history and contributions of LGBTQ people are taught in the state's public schools.
Rep. Anna Moeller introduced the bill, which will modify school code so that it contains a more inclusive study of history, CNN reports. The bill states, “In public schools only, the teaching of history shall include a study of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State.”
The state’s biggest LGBTQ civil rights advocacy organization, Equality Illinois advocated or the bill, added that the curriculum can have a “positive effect on students' self-image and make their peers more accepting.”
New course topics will include the nation’s first gay rights organization, the Society for Human Rights, which was established in Chicago in 1924—and Sally Ride, who was the first U.S. woman in space and was also gay.
“One of the best ways to overcome intolerance is through education and exposure to different people and viewpoints,” State Sen. Heather Steans, who also sponsored the bill, said in a statement, per CNN. “An inclusive curriculum will not only teach an accurate version of history but also promote acceptance of the LGBTQ community.”
The bill also says that all textbooks “authorized to be purchased must include the roles and contributions of all people protected under the Illinois Human Rights Act and must be non-discriminatory as to any of the characteristics under the Act.”
“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 gain new role models who share life experiences with them.”
The bill will go into effect in July 2020.