Illinois — The Illinois Senate passed bill SB3249 on Wednesday that would require “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,’” The Associated Press reported.
The bill, which passed with a 34-18 vote, would require public schools in the state to teach lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) history, as well as use inclusive and “non-discriminatory” textbooks.
“By teaching students an inclusive curriculum, Illinois classrooms will promote acceptance and a more accurate portrayal of history,” said Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, the bill’s sponsor in a statement. “LGBT students also will learn about people who had some similar qualities to them and became historical role models.”
“This measure is consistent with how Illinois public schools teach children about other marginalized communities and ethnicities, and it is one more step toward offering students a complete and accurate historical perspective,” she added.
Some education advocates and religious groups oppose the bill but for different reasons.
“We have a clear directive from our membership to oppose all curricular mandates that come before the General Assembly,” said Zach Messersmith, director of government relations for the Illinois Association of School Boards in a statement. “We believe that locally elected school boards should be able to determine curricula for their students as long as it meets Illinois Learning Standards.”
Others argue that the bill contradicts Judeo-Christian beliefs and have raised concerns regarding religious freedom.
“Schools should teach that we should be respectful of each student and each person. This is what we all agree on. However, schools should not be used to advocate for lifestyles that are against the religious values of the students and parents,” Illinois Family Institute lobbyist Ralph Rivera told legislators in a memo, according to The State Journal Register.
“I know there’s been concerns about religious freedom and this is not what (this bill) is trying to do,” Steans said. “It’s just acknowledging that a person of historical significance was gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. It makes no value judgement.”
How much time is spent on the subject would be left up to school districts to decide.
The measure will now head to the House. If enacted, Illinois would become the second state to approve an LGBT inclusive curriculum.
A few public comments;
“Have to wonder if the class work includes the lessons on promiscuity, lack of safe sex.”
“Yesterday, US Dep’t of Education issued a report finding that only 8% of Chicago 8th graders are proficient in math and reading. Yet the Illinois legislature thinks what’s needed is a a unit on how trans people contributed to our country.”
“They could also teach that when heterosexuals get married… they take an oath… that they will stay together “until death do us part.”
“I am supposed to teach this in California….but I don’t..”
“Make no mistake, the intent of this group is to destroy any resemblance of a traditional family.”