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LGBTQ Inclusion In School Curriculum Proposal Still Up In Air


LGBTQ rights advocates have been pushing a measure they say would amend school code in a way that would be beneficial when it comes to noting the community's role in state and national history. Last week those representing groups like Equality Illinois urged lawmakers to pass the proposal, which has yet to reach a vote outside of committee.

In a press statement, CEO of the Equality Illinois, Brian Johnson, said, "The teaching of history has been set a little too straight. LGBTQ identities have been erased by omission. Now, it is time for our public schools in Illinois to tell the whole story."

Illinois school code has already been changed a number of times to point out contributions of groups like women and African Americans.  Sponsor of the House measure, Anne Moeller, a Democrat from Elgin, says it would draw attention to people like: "Alan Turing, the man who helped end World War II by breaking German ciphers and inventing the earliest computer ... Jane Adams, the founder of (Chicago's) Hull House and the champion for social justice in the late 19th century."

Opponents say they worry the requirement would go against many people's "belief systems." Ralph Rivera is with the non-profit the Illinois Family Institute (which the Southern Poverty Law Center qualifies as a "hate group") and says public schools shouldn't require the teaching of history that goes against many family's belief systems. "What about those students, what about those families - don't they have protection of rights to live out their belief system? That's so important," he said in a committee hearing.

Changes have been made to the proposal to make it more like a suggestion versus a mandate. Based on amendments, the requirement would not be overseen by the regional superintendent of schools, and money would not be provided for supplemental materials on LGBTQ history. 

Rachel Otwell of the Illinois Times is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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