A bill was recently passed on Wednesday to help strengthen the current anti-bullying protections in the state of Illinois. The bill that was passed with 61 votes has now gone to the state’s Senate, where everyone is hoping that it will officially become law. It was introduced by lesbian state Rep. Kelly Cassidy.
The bill is not aimed directly towards LGBT issues. It’s more like an addition to the current code to create a model bullying prevention policies for schools for 2013. The current school code does contain LGBT anti-bullying protections.
“To get straight to the heart of bullying in our schools, it will take a comprehensive approach among parents and educators,” Cassidy said in a statement. “By giving school district the tools to combat bullying and working with the community to offer youth programming and professional development for staff, we can help ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for children and schools.”
Even though people are excited that this anti-bullying bill there was a two things that had to be removed from the bill in order to let it advance forward.
In its initial drafts, HB 5290 added protected classes to the current code. Those were appearance, homelessness, socioeconomic status, academic status, pregnancy and parenting status. However, just 24 hours before going to vote, those categories were stripped. Many people were utterly disappointed that it was removed.
The current code of the bill is intended to protect all students, but certain marginalized groups, such as LGBT students, are named specifically to show those groups they are protected and encourage enforcement.
The measure, however, does contain policy intended to make sure schools are active in enforcing the policy. It contains procedures for preventing, investigating and following-up on complaints.
Perhaps most significantly, it places an emphasis on “restorative” measures rather than “punitive” discipline. Rather than punishing students who bully, the amendment mandates education, emotional support, counseling and other community-based solutions intended to address root causes of bullying.