CHICAGO, Ill – LGBTQ Americans find themselves in a position we haven't been in for nearly a decade: fighting against an administration that wants to turn back the clock on LGBTQ rights. This sadly signals to others that it is permissible to try to stop the progress we've all fought so hard to achieve locally and nationally.
To this, Equality Illinois is responding with an aggressive Spring to Action agenda to build a strong and affirming voice among LGBTQ Illinoisans and our allies throughout the state to keep Illinois as an island of equality. At the same time, we are part of the national fight to defend our freedoms.
The Spring to Action agenda begins next week in Springfield and continues in cities throughout the state. In the coming weeks, Equality Illinois will host a series of trainings on LGBTQ issues, engage in town hall forums, and sponsor EqualityCon 2017 in Springfield for a daylong conference. Local LGBTQ and allied organizations are cosponsoring the trainings, town halls and EqualityCon.
"The laws that guarantee legal equality in Illinois still do not always create a true, open, lived equality for the state's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people and our families," said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. "It's not enough to simply join the fight against the anti-LGBTQ actions of the Trump administration in Washington. We must simultaneously build a more fair and just Illinois."
Anthony Galloway, Director of Education and Outreach of Equality Illinois, said, "Our Spring to Action will help give LGBTQ Illinoisans and our allies the knowledge and tools they need to further realize our rights in the state, particularly in regions where they may be less visible or face more challenges."
The spring Statewide Training Series begins next week in Springfield (March 9) and continues in Peoria (March 15), Carbondale (March 28), Bloomington-Normal (March 30-31), and the Metro East area (April 18). Topics will include advocating to your public officials, being an ally for LGBTQ youth, and fighting housing discrimination. Details and free registration for the training programs can be found at www.equalityillinois.org/2017trainings.
Town hall forums are scheduled for Bloomington-Normal (April 4), Peoria (April 5), Carbondale (April 19) and Metro East (May 23), with more to be scheduled. The town halls will feature Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson offering "An Illinois Agenda for LGBTQ Equality," which will be based on the findings of a statewide listening tour that Johnson conducted after he assumed the leadership of Equality Illinois last June 1, hundreds of conversations with LGBTQ stakeholders in Illinois, and on a statewide survey taken last summer. Details and free registration for the town halls can be found at www.equalityillinois.org/Townhalls2017/.
EqualityCon 2017 on May 6 is a daylong conference in Springfield's State House Inn where speakers and panel discussions will cover a wide range of topics including adoption by LGBTQ parents, updating legal documents for transgender Illinoisans, LGBTQ rights in the schools, and much more. More information on the program and registration can be found at www.equalityillinois.org/EqualityCon2017/.
The Spring to Action agenda includes the previously announced Equality Illinois 2017 legislative priorities, a package of bills that will advance the civil rights protections of LGBTQ Illinoisans. Bill topics include the criminal justice system, public boards and commissions, and documents needed by transgender Illinoisans. The bills would ban so-called “gay panic defense” and ”trans panic defense” in murder cases, ensure non-discrimination in jury service, increase LGBTQ participation on scores of state boards, and modernize birth certificate corrections, which would aid transgender Illinoisans. Read more about the legislative priorities at www.equalityillinois.org/2017-legis/.