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Gov. Pritzker Takes Executive Action to Ensure Schools Have Tools to Be Affirming and Inclusive for Transgender, Nonbinary and Gender Nonconforming Students

Press Release - Sunday, June 30, 2019

Chicago — Before joining the 49th annual Chicago Pride Parade, Gov. JB Pritzker signed an executive order to ensure schools statewide have the tools be affirming and inclusive for transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming students.

"This executive order is one more step toward securing Illinois' place as a leader in equality and hope," said Governor JB Pritzker. "Under this executive order, ignorance is no longer an excuse for bigotry."

Executive Order 19-11 establishes a new Affirming and Inclusive Schools Task Force to examine best practices and directs the Illinois State Board of Education to take several steps to support transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming students in schools.

ISBE will take a comprehensive approach to make schools more affirming and inclusive, including promoting LGBTQ students' rights in schools, providing published resources supporting LGBTQ students, and developing model policies or procedures to improve access to facilities, participation in physical education classes and school-based programs and activities, student records, names and pronouns and dress codes.

The task force will examine what schools across the state and nation are doing to ensure LGBTQ students have welcoming, safe, supportive and inclusive school environments and make recommendations to the governor's office by January 1, 2020. It will be comprised of 25 members appointed by the governor.

"This Executive Order is about more than protecting the young members of our transgender community, it's an important first step towards ensuring every Illinois student has the safe space that allows them to reach their full potential," said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "Ending the intolerable levels of discrimination and violence against our transgender community starts here -- in our schools -- by making the values of tolerance and respect just as much a part of our educational cultural as academics, athletics, and the arts."

"The State Board of Education is eager to provide supports to schools on fostering safe and inclusive environments for transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming students," said Illinois State Board of Education Chair Darren Reisberg. "All children deserve to be themselves at school and to be welcomed, safe, and included in classrooms, in the halls, and in afterschool activities. We have a collective obligation to ensure equity in each and every classroom and beyond. Our schools can and should be places that support all children and that go the extra mile for the students in the greatest need. Many Illinois schools are leading the way in modeling inclusive policies, and the State Board of Education looks forward to sharing these best practices."

"This is bold action to protect transgender and gender nonconforming students across the state to ensure that Illinois is a welcoming and affirming home for all students. We applaud Governor Pritzker for his leadership on this and a host of other issues that are working to build inclusion in our communities," said David Ernesto Munar, President and CEO of Howard Brown Health, the largest LGBTQ organization and healthcare provider in the Midwest.

"At a moment when Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos demonstrated callous disregard for the rights of LGBTQ students, Governor Pritzker's recognition and action is a welcome response. Students who are LGBTQ across Illinois deserve dignity, protection and support. Like all students, these young people deserve a school setting that provides respect and a place to learn, grow and explore new ideas - not a nightmare destination where they suffer discrimination, humiliation and harm. The Governor's action today is especially affirming for those who have been singled out for discrimination simply because they were transgender. My thoughts today are with Student A and Nova Maday, who along with others challenged policies that denied them equal access to facilities in the school because they are transgender. We urge ISBE to promote model policies that make clear to all school districts their obligations to these students and others. We thank Governor Pritzker for seeing LGBTQ students and respecting their dignity as part of our families. This is an important step toward equality to be celebrated by us all," said John A. Knight, LGBTQ Project Director at the ACLU of Illinois.

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