The state Senate could soon vote on a measure that would require K-12 public schools in Illinois to teach LGBT history.
State Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, got House Bill 246 passed Wednesday with just enough votes, 60-42. The measure would require textbooks “include the roles and contributions of all people protected under the Illinois Human Rights Act” and “the teaching of history of the United States shall include a study of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history.”
Before it passed, Moeller said the measure would give LGBT students role models to look up to in history books. She said it would help students who feel like outsiders.
“There was no common history to counter that,” Moeller said. “Let’s change that narrative in Illinois. Let’s give LGBT students a safe inclusive and welcoming environment and ensure that all of our students have an accurate and improved history and understanding of how LGBT individuals and movements have contributed and shaped our world today.”
State Rep. Tom Morrison, R-Palatine, asked why someone’s sexuality is important.
“How or why is an historical figure’s sexuality or gender self-identification even relevant, especially when we’re talking about kindergarten and elementary school history?” Morrison said. “Furthermore, there’s no parental opt-out nor even any notification so the parents can know if, when or how to talk about these topics with their children.”
He also said it the measure would add another unfunded requirement to school districts, which are governed by locally elected school boards.
“The quality of study that we offer to young people suffers while we add to the quantity of that list,” Morrison said.
The Illinois Senate approved a similar plan last year, but lawmakers left Springfield before the bill came up for a vote in the Illinois House.