In 2019, Illinois legislatures enacted a bill requiring public schools to include the historical contributions of members of the LGBTQ+ community in their annual curriculum. Specifically, the new law requires public schools to incorporate the positive contributions of members of the LGBTQ+ community in the history curriculum for grades kindergarten through twelve. Illinois is the fifth state in the United States to enact a law of this type. The intent of the bill is to expand upon the visibility and representation of the LGBTQ+ community in an educational setting. Advocates of HB 246 have further indicated that one goal of the bill is for LGBTQ+ youth feel safe and supported in school.
HB 246 takes effect statewide July 1, 2020, in advance of the 2020-2021 school year. All public schools receiving funding from the state of Illinois will be required to select textbooks and create lesson plans discussing the historical contributions of the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, the statewide history curriculum has been amended to require the inclusion of materials detailing the roles of any persons protected under the Illinois Human Rights Act.  The bill modified ILCS 5/2-3.155 to include the requirement that all textbooks purchased must be “non-discriminatory as to any of the characteristics under the Illinois Human Rights Act. Textbooks authorized to be purchased under this Section must include the roles and contributions of all people protected under the Illinois Human Rights Act.”  Under this legislation, if a school is receiving federal or state grants of any kind for the purchase of textbooks, they must comply with this rule or risk losing funding. The bill further allows departments to adopt rules as necessary to implement the law and “to ensure the religious neutrality of the textbook block grant program.” 
The amendment is an expansion on the Illinois Human Rights Act, the statute governing adverse treatment and discrimination in the state of Illinois. The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits all forms of discrimination with respect to employment, public accommodations, housing, and education, and also offers those who are victims of discriminations a legal remedy. Specifically, the Act offers protection to those identified as a “protective class,.” Illinois recognizes race, color sex, religion, citizenship status, sexual orientation, and natural origin as protected classes. .
This bill is based on the idea that exposure to a more inclusive curriculum, “will not only teach an accurate version of history but also promote acceptance.”  Studies cited by advocates during the debate process indicate that youth members of the LGBTQ+ community experience less harassment and better academic performance with increased representation in educational materials. 
If you have questions about HB 246, or any other recent amendments or laws, contact Sherer Law Offices at (618) 692-6656, for more information.
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