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Illinois Senate Votes to Require LGBT History Curriculum in Schools

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In a 34-18 vote, the Illinois Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would make it mandatory for public schools to educate youth on LGBT people and their history, the Associated Press reports.

The bill, which now goes to the House, dictates that elementary and high schools teach curriculum on "the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State." The bill would let school boards use their discretion as to how much instructional time is spent on the subject.

Conservative groups have already been pushing back, asking that schools include dissenting voices of people who oppose "the homosexual movement."

"The left's motive is what it always is: It is to normalize homosexuality," Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute, a Christian right organization, said last month, according to the AP.

If the legislation passes in the House and becomes law, Illinois would be the second state to require LGBT-inclusive education. California's 2011 FAIR Education Act made it the first state to require the teaching of LGBT  history.

LGBT-inclusive bills are following the model set by current laws that mandate the inclusion of African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans in the narrative of U.S. history.

"We think all students are better off when we teach them the full breadth of history," Brian Johnson, CEO of  the LGBT rights group Equality Illinois, said in April. The organization believes that the legislation will counter the hostility queer youth face at school. "It makes [students] more likely to understand that a diverse cast has contributed to our society," Johnson said.

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