Protect Transgender Students

Equality Illinois Denounces Discriminatory Legislation
LGBT advocacy organization urges rejection of bill that
stigmatizes transgender students

CHICAGO (January 20, 2016) – Equality Illinois denounces legislation introduced today that would prohibit transgender youth from using school facilities with their peers and calls on the General Assembly to reject the bill.

The bill, HB 4474, would require transgender youth to use separate restrooms and locker rooms than all other students. The bill is sponsored by State Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine).

“The only fair option is to ensure transgender students have access to the facilities that correspond to their gender identity. If a district chooses to add privacy areas or gender neutral bathrooms, all students should be able to decide for themselves to use them and no one should be singled out because of gender identity,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans.

“To do otherwise would send the message to transgender students that they are not respected and valued in their schools, the very spaces where they should be safe and affirmed. We know it is critical to the mental and physical health of a transgender person that they be able to live according to their gender identity,” Cherkasov said.

“What’s needed is community support of transgender students and increased education and outreach to the broader public about the lives of transgender Illinoisans. Instead of ostracizing transgender youth, institutions and citizens need to learn from them.”

Instead of introducing bad policy that stigmatizes transgender and gender non-conforming students, Equality Illinois believes lawmakers should take concrete steps to prevent the violence against transgender and gender non-confirming people:

·  78% report harassment in grades K-12, while 35% report physical assault.

·  90% report discrimination, harassment, and mistreatment in the workplace.

·  And a staggering 41% attempt suicide (versus less than two percent of the general population).

We call on fair-minded Illinoisans to urge their legislators to oppose this bill, which targets transgender youth. It is an attack on the well-being and dignity of transgender students and it demeans the values of fairness and respect in our schools.

This bill is one of a spate of measures introduced into state legislatures around the U.S. at the urging of right-wing organizations that are attempting to chisel away at advances in the law and broader acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans realized in recent years.

“We must draw a bright line in the sand that we will stand up against these hateful tactics that attempt to destroy the fairness and equality for LGBT Illinoisans that we are fighting for,” Cherkasov said.

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