IDHR OBSERVES NATIONAL BULLYING PREVENTION MONTH, SPIRIT DAY
CHICAGO - October is National Bullying Prevention Month and today, October 21st, is Spirit Day, a day to support LGBTQ+ youth and stand against bullying. Recently, several alarming incidents involving LGBTQ+ students have occurred across the state, including a high school student who was beaten up for wearing a pride flag to school. The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) reminds students, parents, and school administrators that "harassment" of any kind is unacceptable.
"Illinois protects you not in spite of who you are, but precisely because of who you are. We celebrate your identity. If you are experiencing bullying in school, the administration has a legal responsibility to protect you. Demand it," said IDHR Director Jim Bennett.
If students are experiencing harassment in school, they should report it immediately to their teacher or school administrator. School administrators have a responsibility to maintain a safe, healthy environment for all student's mental and physical wellbeing, conducive to learning.
GLAAD reports that 70.1% of LGBTQ+ students report being verbally harassed, and that 71% of LGBTQ+ students report hearing homophobic remarks from teachers and/or school staff because of their gender expression.
Discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals is illegal in Illinois as a class protected by the Illinois Human Rights Act. IDHR is prepared to investigate any claim of discrimination - which includes specific protections against harassment.
IDHR Director Bennett emphasized, "Whatever you do, don't be silent. Be loud and proud. And know that the Illinois Department of Human Rights and I have your back."
If you believe that you have been harassed or discriminated against due to your LGBTQ+ status, your gender related identity, or any protected class, please file a charge of discrimination with IDHR. Charges may be filed online at www.illinois.gov/DHR or by calling 312.814.6200. You can also send a direct message to the Department via Twitter at @Illinois_DHR.
Students and parents interested in additional support services are encouraged to reach out to Equality Illinois (www.equalityillinois.us/) and the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance (www.ilsafeschools.org/). They represent LGBTQ+ people across the state and can help families find the resources they need.
To view a video message from Director Bennett on National Bullying Prevention Month and Spirit Day, please click here.
About the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR)
The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) enforces the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"), a law that prohibits discrimination throughout Illinois in employment, real estate transactions, financial credit, and places of public accommodation on the bases of race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment), pregnancy, national origin, ancestry, military status, age (40 and over), order of protection status, marital status, sexual orientation (including gender-related identity), unfavorable military discharge, and physical and mental disability. Additional specific protections apply in certain settings. In employment, discrimination is further prohibited on the bases of citizenship status, work authorization status, arrest record and conviction record. In real estate transactions, discrimination is further prohibited on the basis of familial status and arrest record. And, in education, sexual harassment of students is prohibited in public and private elementary, secondary, and higher educational institutions. To learn more about rights and responsibilities under the Act, visit Illinois.gov/DHR and follow IDHR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & LinkedIn.