Here’s the money quote from today’s article about Forest Park’s District 91 public schools plan to come into compliance with a new state law requiring all schools to reflect the contributions and accomplishments of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in textbooks and curriculum beginning one year from now.
“We believe that it is not only required by law but the right thing to do.”
That’s what Supt. Lou Cavallo told our Maria Maxham this week as the schools begin the process of adapting to House Bill 246, also known as the Inclusive Curriculum Law.
This is not, as some critics claim, just another state mandate. This is about the continuing redefinition of being an American. Nearly three-quarters of a century after the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, since the start of recognizing that white and Christian is not the sum total of America, we continue, even in these hostile days, to expand our definitions.
Just as black history came into our schools in the 1980s, as Latino and Asian history were added, as the stories of those with different than general abilities became part of the fabric of what we teach our children and try to teach ourselves, we grow once more. Now we actively begin to record the place of a long-marginalized LGBTQ+ community in Illinois.
In this hostile moment of Trump and the last gap of his amped-up white supremacist supporters, we are right to remember that the rocky and imperfect trajectory of our shared history bends toward inclusion, toward greater than, toward all in.
To critics, like the GOP state rep we interviewed this week, who say these state mandates are too much, that they swamp teachers, that kids can’t currently pass a civics test, that “if we aren’t even teaching the basics, why add more?” we would say, these are the basics — the diversity, the complexity, the path toward inclusion is the wonder of America. And that’s why we’re teaching it. That’s why we celebrate our small village embracing it.