On to the fall

A message from CEO Brian C. Johnson
 

June 1, 2018

Dear Champion of LGBTQ Equality,

Yesterday marked the end of the spring session for the General Assembly in Springfield.  While there is much to celebrate, we leave the spring session disappointed that the Inclusive Curriculum Bill to include the teaching of LGBTQ people in U.S. history is not yet headed to the Governor’s desk.  Rep. Anna Moeller, the bill’s fearless sponsor in the House, decided to move the floor vote to the fall to allow her more time to secure the necessary votes to guarantee passage.

Rep. Moeller, Sen. Heather Steans (our chief sponsor in the Senate), and our partners in this work have much to be proud of.  The bill passed with bipartisan support on a 34-18 vote in the Senate.  It has bipartisan support in the House of Representatives.

I had wanted to send a strong message to LGBTQ students throughout Illinois going into the summer that the General Assembly had their backs and would honor our history.

But as Rep. Moeller said, “Legislation this significant often takes time to move through the process and we will use the coming months to further educate legislators about the details of the bill and its positive impact on education and students in our state.”

We remain committed to working with her and our dozens of supporters in the House to secure the 60 votes needed to send this bill to the Governor’s desk in the fall.  The bill is written to go into effect on July 1, 2019, so a delay in the final vote won’t affect the effective date.  But final passage is only a possibility so long as you continue to put pressure on your state representative to support the bill. If you haven’t already, you can send a message to your House member HERE.

Even in the face of this delay, I remain inspired by the many ways in which LGBTQ lives will be better in our state because of bipartisan bills that have passed the General Assembly this spring, including five bills Equality Illinois was happy to publicly support.  Some highlights include:

  • The Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified by the Illinois General Assembly. With Illinois now the 37th state to ratify the ERA, only one more state needs to act for it to become part of the U.S. Constitution.
  • House Bill 4572 – sponsored by Rep. Guzzardi and Sen. Castro and championed by Women Employed & Laborers International Union of North America, Midwest Region – will extend non-discrimination protections to employees of small businesses.
  • House Bill 5544 – sponsored by Rep. Moeller and Sen. Collins – will create the Illinois Council on Women and Girls. One of the stated goals of this new council is to elevate the voices of transgender women in the policy discussions on issues affecting the lives of trans people.

I want to close with a huge note of appreciation for Rep. Moeller and Sen. Steans.  I have spent much of this year working with them and watching as they built a broad-based coalition in support of an inclusive curriculum.  Our community is enriched because of the steadfast work of these champions.

I am also grateful for the support of all our partners.  The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance and the Legacy Project worked shoulder-to-shoulder with us in this effort.  We were lucky to have the support of dozens of groups, all of whom put their sweat equity into this effort.  To see the full list of our partners, click HERE.

This delay is an important reminder that our full equality is not guaranteed.  It takes work:  Our allies’ work, our work here on staff, and your work.  Your willingness to respond to our action alerts, to contact and meet with your legislators, and to donate to our work is essential to our ability to achieve justice for our community.

Please keep up the fight with us!

Onward in pride,

Brian C. Johnson
CEO