I have been fortunate that, although an out gay man, I have not faced the kinds of discrimination, harassment, and abuse that many have. I have, however, seen it all around us. Even though Illinois has made great strides in LGBTQ rights and protections, there is much left to be done.
It is sadly still all too common for LGBTQ youth to be kicked out of their homes by their parents. We must have a system in place so that those who are affected have someone to call, somewhere to go, and the support they need. These children deserve all the opportunities we can give them, regardless of what their parents may do. We are blessed in this district to have many of these resources available, but for a large portion of the State, there is nothing.
It is still too common for children to be bullied and harassed in school for being LGBTQ, regardless of whether or not they actually are. It has gotten to the point that some of those children have chosen to end their own lives, which is a tragedy beyond words. We need to make sure that schools are inclusive in their curriculua, and provide teachers with the tools and resources they need to properly address this harassment, which includes counselors and social workers.
I support expanding protections for LGBTQ community, especially the trans community – We have seen several hundred women of color murdered over the last year simply for being trans women of color. We must make sure that our schools, police, and community get the information and training needed to ensure their safety.
Although firing someone for being LGBTQ is illegal, Illinois is an at-will employment state, thus making it very difficult for an employee to prove that discrimination was the reason they were fired (if they can even find an attorney willing to take the case). Even if they can show the discriminatory intent, that person is still out of a job, and risks losing everything. As a result, many LGBTQ people who are out to family and friends still remain closeted at work for fear that they do not have protections. We must work to ensure that losing a job like this will not ruin us, or our neighbors.