Illinois May Approve Law Forcing Public Schools to Teach LGBT History

Transgender, intergender, LGBT -- the vocabulary of gender identity is evolving as the old dividing line between the sexes is increasingly being called into question
AFP/File NORBERTO DUARTE

Illinois may soon join California by passing a law forcing public schools to teach LGBT history to the state’s students.

The Illinois State Senate voted 34-18 on May 1 to require grade schools and high schools to teach LGBT history. The bill now goes to the Democrat-dominated House of Representatives, where it will likely pass without much opposition, Fox 59 reported.

The law, SB 3249, would force schools to add a unit to teach kids about the contributions of gays, lesbians, and other LGBT individuals.

The sponsor of the bill, Chicago Democrat Heather Steans, insists that teaching gay history is no different than requirements for teaching about blacks, Asians, and other minorities.

If the bill is passed, Illinois will become only the second state in the country to force schools to add units on LGBT history.

Brian Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, exclaimed, “There is no justice for LGBTQ people when we are erased from the study of history.” Therefore, she said, the new law is essential.

But some Republicans, a minority in the state capital, said the requirements could infringe on students’ religious freedoms.

“Where’s the protection for students and parents who have a religious belief?” questioned the Illinois Family Institute’s Ralph Rivera, adding, “Which has always been the case, this is not a new, avant-garde thing that they find this behavior to be against their religious beliefs and their churches’ or synagogues’ beliefs. No one seems to be mindful of that. They don’t care.”

In an unusual turn of events, the Illinois Association of School Boards also does not back the proposal. It said requirements such as these take power away from local school boards to set curriculum.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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