(WAND) - New laws going into effect July 1st will require Illinois public schools to teach LGBTQ history and civics education to students.
Illinois House Bill 246 states that, "in public schools only, the teaching of history of the United States shall include a study of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this state."
"I think this is a major step forward, in terms of making it more inclusive and just having students see themselves represented," said Eisenhower High School teacher Alexandra Daggett. "Because when you see yourself represented in a positive light... I think it's just lets them know that it's okay and they can pretty much do whatever they set their mind to."
"I think it's incredibly important for this to be a mandated thing in Illinois schools," added Decatur Pride Vice President August Francis. "It wasn't until I was in college that I learned anything about the Stonewall riots, or learned anything about very famous (LGBTQ) people... It wasn't until I was well into my 20's that I found out anything related to my own history."
The instruction must occur before the student graduates 8th grade.
Another new law requires all public schools in Illinois to include at least one semester of civics education in sixth, seventh or eighth grades.
The civics curriculum will be required to include coursework on government institutions, current events, service learning and “simulations of the democratic process,” which mirrors a mandate that’s on the books for high school students.