The Illinois Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would require public schools in the state to teach lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) history, as well as use inclusive and “non-discriminatory” textbooks.
The bill, which passed with a 34-18 vote, would require “all elementary and high schools to teach a unit studying ‘the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State,’” The Associated Press reported.
Supporters of the legislation, such as Democratic Sen. Heather Steans, who sponsored the measure, told Fox News that teaching LGBT history in schools is important to “increase compassion and understanding as well as to provide historical role models for LGBT students."
“This measure is consistent with how Illinois public schools teach children about other marginalized communities and ethnicities, and it is one more step toward offering students a complete and accurate historical perspective,” she added.
The measure is not unlike the state's school code, which “already ensures inclusion in history curriculum of the contributions and experiences of other historically marginalized communities, including of people of color, women, immigrant communities and people with disabilities,” LGBT advocacy group Equality Illinois said in a statement.
However, how much time is spent on the subject would be left up to school districts to decide.
Opponents argue that the bill contradicts Judeo-Christian beliefs and have raised concerns regarding religious freedom.
"Schools should teach that we should be respectful of each student and each person. This is what we all agree on. However, schools should not be used to advocate for lifestyles that are against the religious values of the students and parents,” Illinois Family Institute lobbyist Ralph Rivera told legislators in a memo, according to The State Journal Register.
But Steans said she has “worked with opponents and have addressed their concerns about whether it is appropriate for children to learn about LGBT history and the implications for religious freedom.”
“This bill is about historical facts,” she added.
The measure will now head to the House, where Steans said she is “hopeful” it will pass. If enacted, Illinois would become the second state to approve an LGBT inclusive curriculum.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.