Justin Bullock, FISM News
During the pandemic Asian-Americans experienced a precipitous rise in discrimination and hate crimes due to the origin of COVID-19 being in Wuhan, China. This amounted to a cultural phenomenon similar to the reaction to and treatment of Arab-Americans after 9/11. In response, Illinois has passed a bill that requires its schools to teach Asian-American history.
The new law was passed without major objection in both the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate. It will implement this new requirement beginning with the 2022-2023 school year. It is one of a number of new laws in Illinois that is a part of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s strategy to reform educational policy in the state in order to bring deeper attention to the history of minorities in Illinois and the US more broadly. Many historians are regarding this bill as a good move as the stories of Asian-Americans during the construction of the railroads and the Asian-American internment camps during World War II are often underemphasized or ignored completely in many schools’ history curriculum.
The bill joins other laws in Illinois that will also require additional historical education with respect to the African-American community, the Jewish community, and the LGBTQ+ community. Ultimately, how these policies are officially implemented will be left to local school districts’ discretion. These laws represent a growing sentiment in the US that America’s history, especially with respect to how it treated minority communities, needs to be subjected to more critical scrutiny.
More controversially, Illinois is considering a bill that would reform sex education regarding topics like consent, gender, and sexual orientation. This sex education bill comes on the heals of a new policy in Chicago where students in 5th grade and higher are being provided access to condoms. Needless to say, this policy and the sex education bill under debate are being met with substantial criticism from Christian conservatives throughout Chicago and Illinois.