As states throughout the country work to embrace diversity, Illinois just took the next step to promote inclusion within its schools. A new bill signed into law this past summer by Governor J.B. Pritzker requires schools to add LGBTQ teachings to their curriculum.

According to the 2019 bill, public school history classes must now include lessons about historical individuals who were lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. In passing this bill, lawmakers hope to widen the scope of the state’s history curriculum and make students of all types feel more welcome.

The updated legislation applies only to public, state-funded schools and not to private or religious schools. The new rules will take effect in July of 2020.

Other changes made to the school code

The bill also makes other small changes to the language of the Illinois School Code. Textbooks bought by the state government for Illinois public schools must now be completely non-discriminatory according to standards set in the Illinois Human Rights Act.

A small update was also made to pronoun usage within the School Code to remove gender-biased language that favored men.

California was the first state to pass such a measure

Three other states have passed similar bills, including California, Colorado and New Jersey. California first passed its law in 2011, while Colorado and New Jersey passed theirs earlier this year.

The Illinois bill arrived at Governor Pritzker’s desk with 59 yeas and 42 nays from the state House of Representatives and 37 yeas and 17 nays from the state Senate. While some legislators voted against it, most Illinois lawmakers support the updated school curriculum.

Fighting against discrimination with education

LGBTQ individuals often face difficulty and bullying, especially within schools. By teaching students about the importance of all individuals in the state and country’s history, lawmakers hope to make school a more welcoming and accepting environment for every student.

Improving representation is a necessary step for protecting the rights and safety of all members of the LGBTQ community. With more inclusive education, Illinois schools can now give their students a broadened worldview and better understanding of their peers.