Archive for the ‘Safe Schools’ Category

 

INCLUSIVE CURRICULUM BILL

February 5, 2019

BREAKING: The Inclusive Curriculum Bill (HB 246) just passed the Illinois House Education School Curriculum Committee! The vote was 13-7. Thank you to sponsor State Rep. Anna Moeller! The bill, which is an initiative of Equality Illinois, The Legacy Project, and Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, will include the contributions of LGBTQ people in the history curriculum in public schools.

Contact your state representative now: tinyurl.com/IllinoisInclusiveCurriculum.

 

An LGBTQ youth’s identity is never disruptive

December 20, 2018

 

 

 

December 20, 2018

Daniel Mair
Superintendent

Steve Nauman
President of the Board of Education

Kate Williams
Principal

Germantown Hills School District #69
103 Warriors Way, Germantown Hills, IL 61548

Dear Superintendent Mair, President Nauman, and Principal Williams:

On behalf of Equality Illinois, the statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, I write to express my dismay in Principal William’s letter to parents last week. By claiming that an LGBTQ youth’s expression of their sexual orientation or gender identity is disruptive, without any mention that she believes a straight or cisgender youth’s expression of their sexual orientation or gender identity might do the same, sets a harmful double standard.  This double standard is inconsistent with best practices for supporting youth, with Illinois laws such as the Illinois Human Rights Act, and our values as Illinoisans. An LGBTQ youth’s identity is never disruptive.

Educators have a sacred duty to protect and affirm children and young people. To that end, the laws of the State of Illinois strive to create an affirming and respectful environment for all students, including those from historically marginalized communities. Laws like the LGBTQ-inclusive Human Rights Act and anti-bullying protections, which have all been adopted with bipartisan support, reflect the values of the Land of Lincoln that all students should be treated with dignity, should be affirmed, and should have the freedom to learn and grow without burden or hostility.

Yet, even in a pro-equality state like Illinois, school life for LGBTQ youth is challenging. According to Illinois data from the U.S. Trans Survey (2015), 80% of individuals who were out or perceived as transgender at some point in their K–12 education experienced some form of mistreatment, such as being verbally harassed, prohibited from dressing according to their gender identity, disciplined more harshly, or physically or sexually assaulted because people thought they were transgender. Furthermore, based on GLSEN’s 2015 School Climate Survey, we know only 27% of LGBTQ youth in Illinois report hearing anything positive about LGBTQ people – people just like them – in the classroom. We must all do better to support LGBTQ youth.

The school district’s proposition – that expression of only LGBTQ youth’s sexual orientation or identity is disruptive – is harmful. LGBTQ youth who experience rejection and social stigmatization are more likely to have high levels of depression, more likely to engage in substance abuse, and more likely to attempt suicide.

And the presence of a rule doesn’t inherently make it fair or even reasonable. The lack of inclusivity and compassion by school administrators is telling and alarming in its implications for what other biases may come into play while educating students. School boards should create environments that affirm each and every student and facilitate the educational process with excellence and dignity.

We urge the Germantown Hills District #69 Board of Education and school administrators to re-evaluate your position and affirm the dignity of each young person in a way that does not further marginalize LGBTQ young people. If we can be of any further assistance, including in setting up trainings regarding LGBTQ cultural competency or as a sounding board for your questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at (773) 477-7173 or bjohnson@eqil.org.

Sincerely,

Brian C. Johnson
Chief Executive Officer

 

Equality Illinois, other LGBTQ champions, respond to Trump transgender student policy

February 23, 2017

Illinois organizations fighting for the civil rights of LGBTQ Illinoisans respond at a news conference to President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind Department of Education and Department of Justice guidance clarifying the civil rights of transgender students. Groups speaking include Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal – Midwest Regional Office, Illinois Safe Schools Alliance and ACLU of Illinois. (Speakers begin at about 5:45 mark.)

“To our transgender youth throughout the state of Illinois, we want you to know on behalf of all of our stakeholders at Equality Illinois, our champions, and our allies, you are beautiful, you are brave, and you are strong. We honor you and we see you. We will fight for you and support you wherever we can,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois.

 

Equality Illinois Urges Congress to Protect Transgender Students

February 22, 2017

With the Trump administration reportedly poised to act against transgender students, Equality Illinois is calling on Senator Dick Durbin and Senator Tammy Duckworth and Illinois House members to stand against discrimination in our schools.

In a letter sent to the state’s congressional delegation, Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson says that the proposed rescinding of the federal guidance that transgender students should be treated the same as fellow students “sends a terrible message and invites personal bias to flourish” in our schools.

Members of Congress should demand that the 2016 policy of fairness and equality remain in force, Johnson says.

READ THE LETTER

 


Equality Illinois Supports Transgender Student

December 8, 2015

Transgender student memeThe legal situation in Township High School District 211 regarding a transgender student’s equal right to access the school locker room that corresponds to her gender identity offers an opportunity for awareness and education about transgender people and the significant challenges and discrimination they encounter in life.

The school district said it would allow the transgender student access to the girls locker room because she has represented that she will change in curtained changing stations. The district had initially proposed requiring the transgender student to use curtained privacy areas while allowing the other female students the option to use such spaces. We know from American history that separate is not equal.

The only fair and equal option is to ensure transgender students have access, without conditions, to the locker room that corresponds to their gender identity. To do otherwise would send the message to transgender students that they are not respected and valued by the very administrators who are responsible for fostering a safe and welcoming space for learning and development.

READ MORE

 

Turning Purple for Spirit Day

October 16, 2014

SpiritDayMeme2014Equality Illinois is turning purple today to join GLAAD on #SPIRITDAY against bullying.

State law in Illinois and federal policies strive to make our schools safe for all students, regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender-related identity or expression. Still, parents, the school community and government create the tone and share the responsibility for actively protecting all students and creating a safe learning environment.

Find helpful Spirit Day resources here and more anti-bullying information at the link below.

READ MORE 

 

Gov. Quinn Signs Anti-Bullying Bill

June 26, 2014
IMG_5271

Gov. Pat Quinn signs the anti-bullying law at the Skinner West Elementary School in Chicago. Looking on (upper left) is Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov.

Gov. Pat Quinn on June 26, 2014 signed an important strengthening of anti-bullying law in Illinois, setting in place policies and procedures to protect all Illinois school children, including LGBT youth.

This significant enhancement was made possible by the hard work of parents, sponsors Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Sen. Heather Steans, and advocacy groups such as Equality Illinois and the ACLU of Illinois.

As described by Sen. Steans, “Based on recommendations from the School Bullying Prevention Task Force, this legislation requires school districts, charter schools and non-sectarian private schools to strengthen their anti-bullying policies in order to provide a safe learning environment for all students. Schools must designate staff members to receive anonymous reports of bullying, make efforts to investigate reports within ten days, protect student privacy, prohibit retaliation and false accusations, establish the types of interventions used to address bullying and inform students and parents of bullying-related procedures.”

 

Advancing the Federal LGBT Agenda

January 13, 2014
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi meets with the EQIL delegation, including CEO Bernard Cherkasov

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi meets with the EQIL delegation, including CEO Bernard Cherkasov

An Equality Illinois delegation spent Thursday, January 9 in Washington, DC meeting with leaders to discuss a wide range of issues and emphasizing that despite great gains in 2013, the agenda remains full and there should be no complacency.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley and the Obama administration officials in attendance were very receptive and welcomed the input.

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