Story at a glance

  • The bill, HB0376, would require that every public elementary school and high school in Illinois teach a unit of Asian American history starting in the 2022-23 school year.
  • Students would learn the history of Asian Americans in Illinois and the Midwest, as well as the community's contributions toward advancing civil rights.
  • The bill now heads to the Senate and will be deliberated in committee before a possible floor vote.

The Illinois House of Representatives has passed legislation that would require public schools to teach Asian American history, setting up the state to be the first to mandate such a curriculum. 

The bill, HB0376, would require that every public elementary school and high school in Illinois teach a unit of Asian American history starting in the 2022-23 school year. Students would learn the history of Asian Americans in Illinois and the Midwest, including the incarceration of Japanese Americans on U.S. soil during World War II, as well as the community's contributions toward advancing civil rights. 


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“Asian Americans are a part of the American fabric but we are often invisible,” state representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D) who has co-sponsored the legislation said, according to Reuters

The Democratic-controlled House passed the measure with a 98-13 vote Wednesday. The bill now heads to the Senate and will be deliberated in committee before a possible floor vote. 

“Empathy comes from understanding. We cannot do better unless we know better,” Gong-Gershowitz said. 

The bill’s passage in the lower chamber follows a sharp rise in crimes and hate incidents against Asian Americans over the course of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Reuters reports advocacy groups have been pushing the bill since early last year, but it gained momentum following a fatal shooting in the Atlanta area last month. A gunman shot and killed eight people at three massage parlors, including six Asian women, although the shooter claimed the killings were not racially motivated.

According to a recent report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased nearly 150 percent in major U.S. cities last year as hate crimes overall in the U.S. fell. 


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Published on Apr 16, 2021