SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Following a spate of similar legislation across the nation, a anti-transgender "bathroom bill" has been introduced in the Illinois House.
HB 4474, sponsored by State Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine), would require transgender youth to use separate restrooms and locker rooms than all other students.
Equality Illinois, the state's oldest and largest organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Illinoisans, denounced the legislation in a statement this week..
"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," offered Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.
"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.
Equality Illinois went on to state that instead of introducing bad policy that stigmatizes transgender and gender non-conforming students, 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.
• 41% attempt suicide (versus less than two percent of the general population).
"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," added Cherkasov.
"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," Cherkasov said.
This bill is one of myriad 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," said Cherkasov.