Illinois The 4th State To Mandate LGBTQ+ History Teaching In Public Schooling But Here's The Problem


Effective as of the 2019-2020 school year, “Illinois State Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed a bill into law that will require all public schools in the state to teach history that includes the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people” as reported by CBS news.

 

The Inclusive Curriculum Law has been created to “ include the roles and contributions of all people protected under the Illinois Human Rights Act and must be non-discriminatory as to any of the characteristics under the Act. Provides that in public schools only, the teaching of history of the United States shall include a study of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State. Effective July 1, 2020.”


While this a huge accomplishment for the LGBTQ+ community overall, the news itself has created a stir in debates on the practicality, equity, and justification in the curriculum overall. 


One aspect of the conversation lies in deeply rooted homophobia in which parents who are not supportive of the LGBTQ community argue that it is their duty to teach their children about LGBTQ identities aside from their history. The concept is that it is more practical for a parent to share that information with children outside of public schooling.



A secondary aspect to this news is the equity of at all. Plenty of marginalized communities such as people or color and women are in awe at how mandated the teaching is set out to be when the teaching of black history, women’s history, etc. are not thoroughly taught in many Chicago Public Schools.


As a product of CPS (Chicago Public Schools) myself, I can attest to that appeal. Black studies, women's studies, and studies of many other marginalized communities were not given enough attention in any of my teaching throughout my elementary and high school matriculation. 


Black History Month/Hispanic Heritage Month were barley focused on in class. One day per that month was dedicated to an assembly of performances catered toward the dedication. Women’s History Month was never brought up and we were lucky to just hear about influential members of these communities by chance in a History or English class. Any opportunity to get a full grasp of any of these areas in history would be to take them as an elective


This is so despite the fact of me attending one of the top high schools in Illinois, with adequate funding and access to proper resources for this information. Now with that in mind, I can only imagine the education disparities in lower income neighborhoods in which said resources are harder to come by.


The importance of LGBTQ history being taught state wide is valid and necessary to provide proper representation and understanding. However, when education deficiens exist regarding racial/gender based history it's hard for me to expect any different from the mandating of LGBTQ history teaching. 


Sexuality and gender identity intersect with ones racial/ethnic background. Meaning each aspect of one's identity is essential to the other. Being that racial and gender based teachings are already neglected within Illinois schooling what will be done for members of the LGBTQ who have made history but lie in the intersectionality of being queer + black or queer + woman amongst many other combinations? 


With the growing need to improve and modernize education comes the need for reform. It is a powerful move for the state of Illinois to recognize the importance of teaching LGBTQ history. But an even more powerful move would be to simatanesly improve the degree in which the history of all other marginalized communities are taught. Thus, living up to true inclusivity within the Inclusive Curriculum Law.

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