A Coalition of Advocacy Organizations in Illinois
Issued the Following Statement
Joint Statement on Stopping Discrimination Against Transgender Students
January 22, 2016
We stand with transgender and gender nonconforming students in Illinois and denounce the blatantly discriminatory bill recently introduced in the Illinois House by Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine). HB-4474 would force transgender and gender nonconforming students to use separate bathrooms and locker rooms and that’s plain wrong.
Not only does this bill promote fear mongering, but its sponsor appears to be out of touch with what is happening in education. More schools across Illinois, and across the nation, are adopting humane policies that respect and affirm all students, including students who are transgender and gender non-conforming. This practice has been endorsed and encouraged by noted researchers and leading authorities on education and student development, all of whom encourage the recognition and support of transgender students and how they wish to express their gender identity in a safe, responsible, and dignified manner.
HB-4474 would compel many schools who are dealing with this issue in a sensitive way, educating their schools and the public about what it means to be transgender, and fostering a sense of community and acceptance on their campuses to reverse those policies and create unnecessary division and segregation.
The Department of Education recently issued a set of very strong findings, in a complaint brought against suburban Chicago District 211, which found that denying a student who is transgender access to an appropriate restroom or changing area is in violation of federal law, specifically Title IX. Rep. Morrison’s bill would force schools to operate in conflict with that finding, at the risk of losing critical federal funding. With these factors in mind, this does not result in sound and responsible public policy, especially considering the budget challenges facing the state.
The real harm is not just for transgender students but all students regardless of their gender identity. It promotes bullying, gender policing and body shaming – all practices that hurt all students and can be devastating for transgender students trying solely to get the good quality education they deserve.
This bill also feeds into the false narrative that sex and gender fit neatly into a binary model and it should not see the light of day. As organizations that work exclusively or significantly with LGBTQ communities, we encourage the State of Illinois to use its resources to advance supportive and inclusive work that moves all Illinois residents toward full equality.
Affinity Community Services
AIDS Foundation of Chicago
American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois
Association of Latino/as Motivating Action (ALMA)
Center on Halsted
Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus
Chicago House and Social Service Agency
Chicago Youth Storage Initiative
Howard Brown Health Center
Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health
Illinois Safe Schools Alliance
La Casa Norte
Pride Action Tank