Equality Illinois Calls for School Board Resignation

Equality Illinois Calls for Resignation of
Warren Township School Board Member
Liz Biondi Says Gay or Lesbian School Superintendent Would Not Be Welcome

CHICAGO (December 11, 2014) – Equality Illinois today called for the resignation of Warren Township High School District 121 Board member Liz Biondi for suggesting that the search for a new school superintendent exclude gay or lesbian candidates, thereby violating the clear Illinois law prohibiting discrimination against gay and lesbian job candidates.

At a public meeting of the board on Dec. 2, 2014 in Gurnee, Illinois, Biondi expressed that she is “going to be very blunt” and proceeded to caution the search firm against bringing gay or lesbian candidates for superintendent: “I’m concerned that if we hired someone that we were not aware of that background, that they may be fighting more personal fires than superintendent fires, I guess is what I’m going to say.”

While some participants at the meeting noted that there are successful gay and lesbian school officials in other districts and that they can’t lawfully ask about job candidates’ sexuality, Biondi retorted: “Well, not until they get here.”

“Public officials have a duty to not only follow the law but to expect that kind of behavior by others in official positions,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest civil rights organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans.

“Biondi clearly demonstrated that she is not worthy of the trust to hold a position on the school board.  We find Biondi’s comments as someone who is sworn to uphold the law to be reprehensible, and she needs to resign from the board effective immediately, certainly before the search process proceeds,” Cherkasov said.

“We appreciate Warren Township board President John Anderson’s reaffirming the values of diversity in the workplace and seeking Biondi’s departure from the board, and we call on him to recommit that the search for a superintendent will not discriminate against lesbian or gay applicants and follow the law,” Cherkasov added.

The Illinois Human Rights Act of 2006 specifically precludes discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and this law also covers all public agencies, including school boards.

This disturbing development serves as an example that laws on the books are only the foundation for securing full equal treatment of all Illinois citizens. “We must remain vigilant and see to it that the laws are understood and enforced despite anyone’s personal objections,” Cherkasov said.

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