On Friday, Illinois House members
joined Senators in approving an anti-bullying bill that includes
sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Illinois House of Representatives –
which includes 48 Republican members – voted unanimously in favor
of the measure. The bill was approved in the Senate on March 24 over
the objections of two Republicans: Minority Leader Christine Rodogno
and Assistant Minority Leader J. Bradley Burzynksi.
Under the law, schools will be required
to fight bullying by adopting anti-bullying policies and creating
resistance education for students.
“At long last, schools across the
state will be uniformly required to take steps to protect vulnerable
kids from bullying and violence,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of
Illinois, the state's largest gay rights advocate. “Students
who are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are
particularly vulnerable to bullying. And the attempted suicide rate
rate among LGBT students, which is as much as three times higher than
the general average, presents alarming evidence for just how urgently
we need this law.”
While senators made quick work of the
bill – going from introduction to approval in under eight weeks –
representatives greatly upped the ante by approving the bill in just
over four weeks. The measure was sponsored by Senator Kimberly A.
Lightford in the Senate and Representative Karen A. Yarbrough in the
House. Both lawmakers are Democrats.
“This was a no-nonsense bill, and I
am glad that it sailed quickly through both chambers of the
legislature,” Cherkasov added.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is expected
to sign the bill.