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Legacy Wall highlights contributions of LGBTQ+ people throughout history

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Brady Johnson
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A Bradley student takes a photo of the Legacy Wall on display in the Cullom-Davis library now through Saturday.

October is LGBTQ+ History Month, and Peoria is welcoming a special exhibit covering the significance of LGBTQ+ individuals in America called the Legacy Wall.

The stigmas attached to LGBTQ+ issues and persons have caused dire consequences for today’s youth. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people with LGBTQ+ youth four times more likely to consider, plan and attempt suicide.

Acorn Equality Fund, Bradley University, and Central Illinois Friends are combating these harmful stigmas by sharing a familiar history, but with a new perspective.

In the late summer of 2019, the Illinois legislature passed a law introducing LGBTQ+ inclusive history into the state’s curriculum.

Central Illinois Friends Executive Director Deric Kimler says the new exhibit sharing LGBTQ+ history aims to tackle confusion on what is being taught in Peoria Public Schools.

Kimler says the Peoria Public School system was one of the first schools to really push ahead by creating a committee of educators, students and community members like Kimler.

“It’s the same curriculum made by the same organization that created the [Legacy] [W]all. When it rolled out, we did get some pushback from some parents and some people in the Peoria area,” Kimler said.

This will be the first year introducing the curriculum to students as Kimler says last year “we took our time and provided Safe Zone training to educators.”

“October is the month of LGBTQ+ history, so we’re using this month… to bring the Legacy Wall to literally show all those concerns what this curriculum is all about,” Kimler said. “Which it’s not about parts, it’s not about partners… and it’s not about sex. This is literally about LGBTQ+ contributions that were made - that we all celebrate today.“

Some of these celebrated individuals include George Washington Carver, Katharine Lee Bates and Baron Friedrich von Steuben.

Kimler wants those who are still unsure about the LGBTQ+ curriculum to attend the Legacy Wall to see it first hand.

“When we’re talking about LGBTQ+ history what we are literally talking about is lowering bullying in our schools. Lowering suicide rates or lowering dropout rates. And

homelessness of our LGBTQ+ individuals,” Kimler said. “It is telling all of those who are LGBTQ+, including our allies, and our friends that we can grow up to do and be anything.”

The Legacy Wall is on display at the Cullom-Davis Library at Bradley University until October 23. You can find more information about the project and display hours from these links:

https://www.friendsofcentralillinois.org/evens
legacyprojectchicago.org
https://legacyprojectchicago.org/legacy-wall

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