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LGBT Curriculum Bill Advances

Dusty Rhodes
NPR Illinois
State Rep. Anna Moeller, an Elgin Democrat, sponsored a bill that would require public schools in Illinois to teach about the positive contributions of LGBT people.

A proposal calling for public schools to adopt curricula that would include information about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people is advancing to the Illinois legislature. 

State Rep. Deborah Conroy taught religious education to Catholic public school students for 15 years. But the Villa Park Democrat is co-sponsoring this bill.

“From a mental health perspective, I would like to tell you that this will save lives. Bullying is one of the biggest issues that we face in terms of not only suicide within our youth, but our shooters.’’ Conroy said. ““When all of us sit around the table and talk about working to prevent crisis within mental health and people losing their battles with mental health, this bill will actually save lives, and it's basically a human right.”

The bill calls for teaching of American history in Illinois schools to include positive contributions of LGBT people but does not otherwise specify what be taught.

It also says that textbooks purchases will include contributions of people protected under the Illinois Human Rights Act, which says individuals will not be discriminated against because of such things such as gender, sexual orientation, race and religion

The bill's sponsor, state Rep. Anna Moeller said, “Under current practice, in many of our schools, the contributions of LGBT individuals and history remain hidden and unacknowledged, thus denying all students the opportunity to gain a greater understanding and fullness of world history and those who have shaped the world we live in today.”.

Ralph Rivera, with the Illinois Family Institute, is opposed.

“This is a mandate for schools and therefore a mandate on those students to learn something that is against their religious views."

Last year, the measure was approved in the Senate but didn’t get a vote in the full House.

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is news editor and equity and justice beat reporter for NPR Illinois, where she has been on the staff since 2014 after Illinois Issues magazine’s merger with the station. She joined the magazine’s staff in 1998 as projects editor and became managing editor in 2003. Prior to coming to the University of Illinois Springfield, she was an education reporter and copy editor at three local newspapers, including the suburban Chicago Daily Herald, She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in English from UIS.
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