New bill mandates Illinois public schools teach LGBTQ history

Chicago musicians past and present could potentially be part of the curriculum

LGBTQ History law public schools Illinois
Lorraine Hansberry

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed a law that mandates the state’s public schools to teach the history and contributions of LGBTQ people in the US and Illinois. The bill passed the Senate and House earlier this year and is scheduled to go into effect in July of next year.

“In public schools only, the teaching of history 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,” the bill states. Representative Anna Moeller introduced the bill in hopes of building a more inclusive history curriculum, CNN reports. Pritzker signed it into law on Friday.

The new curriculum will reportedly explore subjects like the nation’s first gay rights organization, The Society for Human Rights, which was formed in 1924 in Chicago, as well as Sally Ride, the first US woman in space, who was also a lesbian.

(Read: Get Proud: 10 Must-See LGBTQ+ Musicians on Tour This Summer)

Because the law looks at LGBTQ history with roots both in the US and Illinois, there’s also a good chance Chicago’s perpetually ripe music scene may turn up in textbooks, whether it’s referencing artists like Anthony Rapp, who broke barriers playing Mark Cohen in Rent, or playwright Lorraine Hansberry, who wrote A Raisin in the Sun — the first Broadway play to be written by a black woman — and inspired Nina Simone’s song “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black”. After all, everyone from the New York Times to the Grammys is busy discussing the influence of Chicago’s LGBTQ community already.

Regardless, it’s an exciting decision for an overwhelming number of reasons. So far, it looks like the list of positive benefits isn’t lost on the government employees involved in the matter. “It is my hope that teaching students about the valuable contributions LGBTQ individuals have made throughout history will create a safer environment with fewer incidents of harassment,” said State Senator Heather Steans. “LGBTQ children and teenagers will also be able to gain new role models who share life experiences with them.”