Beginning next year, Illinois schools will be required to include the positive contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in their history curriculum. 

Under a bill signed last week by Governor J.B. Pritzker, public schools in the state must include LGBT individuals in history lessons, and use textbooks that include the roles of people protected under the state’s Human Rights Act. The new law takes effect July 1, 2020. 

Illinois is the fifth state to pass such a measure, according to advocates for the legislation.

State Rep. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, said she worked for two years to pass the legislation. Steans said she believes the legislation will help LGBT youth feel safe and supported in school.

“My oldest child is trans herself. And it’s definitely a challenge,” Steans said. “And feeling accepted and seeing yourself in the history books just makes a difference to your own self esteem. I’m very pleased we were able to get this done.”

Equality Illinois, a group that advocates for the civil rights of LGBT individuals in Illinois, also supported the legislation.

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