Students in Illinois public schools will learn about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people in state and national history because of the Inclusive Curriculum Law, which takes effect on July 1, 2020 for the 2020-2021 school year.
The Inclusive Curriculum Law is the initiative of Equality Illinois, the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance ( a program of the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago ) and the Legacy Project and was sponsored by State Rep. Anna Moeller ( D-Elgin ) and State Sen. Heather Steans ( D-Chicago ). The law passed the Illinois General Assembly last year with bipartisan support and was approved by Governor JB Pritzker on August 9, 2019.
An inclusive curriculum can have positive, affirming benefits and help counteract some disturbing trends. Sadly, in schools across Illinois and the United States, LGBTQ students are told, through bullying, harassment, and exclusion, that they do not belong. These conditions have created a school environment where LGBTQ students are forced to hide who they are to protect themselves. According to GLSEN'S 2017 School Climate Survey, 88% of LGBTQ students in Illinois have heard the word "gay" as a slur. And only 24% of LGBTQ students in Illinois were taught anything positive in classrooms about people like them.
Illinois is one of five states to enact such a law. The other states are California, New Jersey, Colorado, and Oregon.
Individuals who want to get involved and ensure effective implementation of the Inclusive Curriculum Law can sign up for an electronic newsletter developed by Equality Illinois, the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, and the Legacy Project. The registration link is https://www.ilsafeschools.org/inclusive-curriculum-updates.
State Rep. Anna Moeller:
"I was proud to work with Equality Illinois, the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, and the Legacy Project to pass the Inclusive Curriculum Bill in the Illinois House. This landmark legislation is a positive step towards improving our curriculum and school environment by ensuring a more comprehensive and accurate teaching of the contributions of LGBTQ individuals and the movements that have shaped the world we live in today."
State Sen. Heather Steans:
"I am excited the LGBTQ Inclusive Curriculum Law will be a reality for educators and students starting in all Illinois public schools this fall. One of the best ways to support our youth and overcome intolerance is through education that acknowledges the contributions of LGBTQ people in the history of Illinois and the United States. It is my hope that teaching students about these valuable contributions will create safe and affirming school environments. LGBTQ children and teenagers will also be able to look to new role models who share life experiences with them."
Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois:
"We are excited the day has come for the Inclusive Curriculum Law to take effect and look forward to the coming school year. As a former first grade teacher, I know how an inclusive education system can create change within a community. By including information in curricula about the contributions of LGBTQ people and related events and movements, we will get closer as a state to telling the whole story of our shared history. It is especially poignant that the law takes effect only a few days after the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, which initiated the modern LGBTQ equality movement."
Grecia Magdaleno, Policy and Advocacy Manager for Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, a program of the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago:
"As a queer, nonbinary kid of color, I didn't have the opportunity to see myself reflected in textbooks or classroom teaching and I wonder what my life would look like now if I had. I'm beyond grateful to have worked on the implementation of this law so that experiences like mine become less common. When young people can see themselves reflected in the classroom, they feel more empowered to ask for what they need. In the midst of turmoil and upheaval, they can envision their future selves. Thank you to LGBTQ+ young people and their allies for pushing society to realize a greater vision. I am proud to be part of this work."
Victor Salvo, Executive Director of the Legacy Project:
"The passage of the Inclusive Curriculum Law — and being able to support it through our work — is the fulfillment of the dream which inspired the Legacy Project's creation 33 years ago. For centuries, LGBTQ+ people have been denied access to the very knowledge that people like us have contributed in vast ways to the betterment of society. This purposeful redaction has transformed the opportunity to get an education into a toxic, often life-threatening experience. It is hard enough to be a kid; but to be forced to grow up without the benefit of historically significant role models — to inspire you in an environment where your self-esteem is routinely shattered by derogatory comments — places a burden on LGBTQ+ youth that is simply inconceivable for people who have not had to experience it for themselves. Thanks to vital work of our partners, and the bravery of Sen. Steans and Rep Moeller, Illinois's LGBTQ+ youth will finally have a chance to learn that they matter — and have always mattered — even if no one has ever bothered to tell them."
About Equality Illinois
At Equality Illinois we envision a fair and unified Illinois where everyone is treated equally with dignity and respect and where all people live freely regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. We work hard to promote legislation to protect the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning ( LGBTQ ) individuals; maintain the visibility of LGBTQ issues; oppose legislation which seeks to limit the civil rights of the LGBTQ community; and expand statewide grassroots support.
—From a press release