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Should Illinois Include LGBT+ History in Schools?


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Jun 22, 2018
Categories: News, Politics, Society, History

Should Illinois Include LGBT+ History in Schools?

In modern times, complaints about history classes and textbooks in elementary school have arisen. Some claim they are not teaching young and impressionable students a holistic and completely accurate perspective of American history.  In a country with a long history of oppressive social structures and conquests, some educators, parents, and citizens are pushing for an accurate portrayal of these circumstances in history books throughout the country.

A recent article was written about an Illinois bill that was passed in May.  Passing with 34 votes (34-18), this bill calls for public schools in Illinois to intertwine LGBTQIA+ history into its history curriculum.  Since Illinois educators claim that their history textbooks are “inclusive and non-discriminatory”, this state seems like a given for this new educational milestone. Specifically, the bill calls for “all 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.’”  

Illinois, among other states, have made efforts to include the history of different marginalized groups and cultural identities into its curriculum.  These include people of color, immigrant communities, individuals with disabilities, the Deaf community, and more.  Educators, as well as lawmakers, believe that their stories deserve to be told, and children should have the opportunity to grow up knowing of both the struggles and triumphs of their ancestors.

Additionally, many psychological studies have called for the increase of role models from different ethnicities, cultures, races, socio-economic statuses, sexual identities, gender identities, and more so that children from any type of diverse background can see someone like them overcome obstacles and succeed in life.  This has the potential to be a very beneficial, developmental event for children and adolescents.

The bill allows teachers and schools to decide how much class time will be given to focusing on the LGBTQIA+ history; however, as of right now, it has only been signed by the Illinois Senate and is awaiting the House's vote to determine if it will be implemented in all Illinois schools. 

The premise of the bill is “historical facts” says Senator Heather Stean. However, in my opinion, it has the potential to do more than instruct students of historical events and figures in the LGBTQIA+ movement.  Similar to the instruction of other cultural and ethnic histories, students will begin to understand that the world does not solely consist of them and people like them.  They will be able to gain empathy, for the barriers and struggles that others have endured often to acquire human rights while being kinder to their classmates and peers who may identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community.  Additionally, an early exposure to LGBTQIA+ history may act as these students' first introduction to the notions of social justice and equity within the world.  

As we await the Illinois House of Representatives' vote, I am curious: What do you think of the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ history within schools and history class curriculums? Should it be recognized and implemented in all 50 states, or should each school and/or school district be able to decide for themselves? 


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