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Steans law to require LGBTQ history to be taught in schools

Published: Monday, August 12, 2019 08:52 AM

steans 031419SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) is continuing her effort to introduce an inclusive curriculum to Illinois schools that celebrates the contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Steans’ law requiring public schools to include the contributions of LGBTQ individuals in their history curricula became law today.

“One of the best ways to overcome intolerance is through education and exposure to different people and viewpoints,” Steans said. “An inclusive curriculum will not only teach an accurate version of history but also promote acceptance of the LGBTQ community.”

Currently, Illinois schools are required to teach students about the role and contributions of African-Americans and other ethnic groups, as well as about women’s history, the history of the labor movement and disability history. Steans also thanked the efforts of advocates like Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, the Legacy Project and Equality Illinois for helping to raise awareness of the need for LGBTQ historical figures to be recognized similarly.

“Thank you, Gov. Pritzker, for signing the Inclusive Curriculum Bill and ensuring that LGBTQ youth in Illinois will now see themselves in the history they are taught. We are excited this bill is now law in 2019 - the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the birth of the modern LGBTQ equality movement,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. “Also, thank you to Rep. Moeller and Sen. Steans, our fierce champions in the General Assembly. Your bold and unrelenting leadership and advocacy will benefit our youth for decades to come. As a former first grade teacher, I know how an inclusive education system can create change within a community. With this law, we will get closer as a state to telling the whole story of our shared history.”

According to a 2015 survey conducted by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, nearly 70 percent of LGBTQ students in Illinois have been verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation.

“It is my hope that teaching students about the valuable contributions LGBTQ individuals have made throughout history will create a safer environment with fewer incidents of harassment,” Steans said. “LGBTQ children and teenagers will also be able to look to new role models who share life experiences with them.”

House Bill 246 takes effect July 1, 2020.

Workplace discrimination protections now law in Illinois

Published: Friday, August 09, 2019 11:39 AM

jbt 041118 2PLAINFIELD Women across Illinois will have stronger remedies to fight sexual harassment and discrimination in work places, thanks to a measure supported by State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) championed Senate Bill 75, which clarifies the ethics investigation process, including making the process more transparent and giving additional rights to victims of harassment and discrimination who file ethics complaints. The measure was signed into law today.

Senate Bill 75 will require hotels and casinos to provide employees who work in isolated spaces with panic buttons for use if they are sexually harassed or assaulted, and local governments will now be required to report and provide an independent review of allegations of sexual harassment made against local elected officials and makes harassment against contract employees illegal.

“Illinois’ employment laws will now match the needs of workers from the 21st century,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “As a state, it is our responsibility to put forth policies that promote inclusion and safety.”

The bipartisan measure passed the legislature with unanimous support.

“This monumental legislation is helping shift the culture in the workplace,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to institute new laws that strive to make Illinois a better place to work, live and grow.”

The ethics provisions in Senate Bill 75 are effective immediately, the panic button provision takes effect July 1, and every other section takes effect Jan. 1.

Tom Cullerton measure to give taxpayers clear picture of state’s finances now law

Published: Thursday, August 08, 2019 08:53 AM

tc 060219VILLA PARK – Illinois residents will soon have a clearer picture of the state’s finances thanks to State Senator Tom Cullerton.

Signed into law today, Cullerton’s legislation, House Bill 313 requires the Illinois Comptroller’s website to display the amounts and dates of expenditures by state agencies to vendors, the salaries of each state employee and graphical data whenever possible.

“Illinois taxpayers have a right to know how their money is spent,” Cullerton said. “While this online database provides residents with an excellent resource, this legislation will expand the scope of the website to create an even clearer picture of the state’s finances.”

The website currently shows all of the state financial records and reports, with the same up-to-date numbers and information that are used by the Comptroller’s office in carrying out its Constitutional duties, including employee salaries. Cullerton urges Illinois residents to visit https://illinoiscomptroller.gov/financial-data/state-expenditures/employee-salary-database/  to inspect state revenues, expenses, contracts and salaries.

In addition to increasing transparency about individual employee salaries, the new law will also extend to information about private-sector firms that seek contracts from the state.

“Our goal is to ensure this comprehensive financial database gives taxpayers an up-to-date and reliable method to inspect state revenues and expenditures to improve fiscal transparency in our state,” Cullerton said.

The bipartisan legislation passed the General Assembly with unanimous support and goes into effect immediately.  

Martinez law works to prevent suicide among college students

Published: Thursday, August 08, 2019 08:51 AM

collegestudent 080819SPRINGFIELD — Legislation sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) addressing the growing concern of mental illness and suicide on college campuses became law today.

Martinez’s law will require public colleges and universities to make information available to students on all mental health and suicide prevention resources provided by the university.

“We are becoming more aware of the struggles college students are facing,” Martinez said. “They need to be able to readily access help for mental health issues they may be dealing with.”

Diagnoses and treatment of mental health conditions among college students are on the rise, and suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students.

House Bill 3404 takes effect Jan. 1, 2020. 

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