Gay rights advocates want Illinois schools to be required to teach LGBT history

SPRINGFIELD — Gay and transgender rights advocates want to require Illinois public schools to teach students about LGBT history, as opponents say those kinds of decisions should be left to local officials.

Legislation pending in Springfield would require a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender section be added to history classes and have school districts ensure textbooks "accurately portray the diversity of our society."

Supporters say the state already has similar rules requiring lessons on African-Americans and other groups. They say a dedicated LGBT history unit would give students greater perspective on instrumental Americans whose stories often go untold.

"There is no justice for LGBTQ people when we are erased from the study of history," said Brian Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, a gay and transgender rights advocacy organization.

But opponents say those lessons hinder the religious freedom of students with certain beliefs. Ralph Rivera, a lobbyist with the conservative Illinois Family Institute, said adding LGBT education to public school curricula would promote "a value system counter to the value system that those students have."

"Where’s the protection for students and parents who have a religious belief?" Rivera said. "Which has always been the case, this is not a new, avant-garde thing that they find […]

Gay-rights advocates want Illinois schools to be required to teach LGBT history

Gay and transgender rights advocates want to require Illinois public schools to teach students about LGBT history, as opponents say those kinds of decisions should be left to local officials.

Legislation pending in Springfield would require a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender section be added to history classes and have school districts ensure textbooks “accurately portray the diversity of our society.”

Supporters say the state already has similar rules requiring lessons on African Americans and other groups. They say a dedicated LGBT history unit would give students greater perspective on instrumental Americans whose stories often go untold.

“There is no justice for LGBTQ people when we are erased from the study of history,” said Brian Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, a gay and transgender rights advocacy organization.

But opponents say those lessons hinder the religious freedom of students with certain beliefs. Ralph Rivera, a lobbyist with the conservative Illinois Family Institute, said adding LGBT education to public school curriculums would promote “a value system counter to the value system that those students have.”

“Where’s the protection for students and parents who have a religious belief?” Rivera said. “Which has always been the case, this is not a new, avant-garde thing that they find […]