The Human Rights Campaign has declared a national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in response to the alarming surge in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the country.
Tonight, the HRC Steering Committee of Chicago is holding a town hall in Lake View at 6pm to discuss how to ensure Illinois remains a safe haven for all in the midst of this emergency. (Details and registration here.)
State Representative Kevin Olickal is on the panel and that raises a big question.
How is Rep. Olickal’s support for continuing the discriminatory Invest in Kids voucher program compatible with being a true ally to the LGBTQ+ community—one with the values and courage to address this state of emergency?
If you're a constituent in the 16th State House district, please give his office a call and ask: (847) 673-1131
I’m a constituent. I’m glad to see Rep. Olickal on a panel addressing the state of emergency for the LGBTQ+ community in this country.
But I'm wondering how that is compatible with his support for Illinois’ voucher program?
The school voucher program is diverting public funds to private schools with transphobic, homophobic policies; at least one in five of these schools discriminate against LGBTQ+ students and families.
Public funds should be for public schools that serve everyone.
I urge Rep Olickal to drop his support for continuing the harmful Invest in Kids voucher program.
This summer, Rep Olickal attended a town hall held by Agudath Israel of Illinois, one of the most active pro-voucher groups in Springfield. Agudath Israel’s support for school vouchers is in line with many of their other policy positions; they oppose abortion rights, gay marriage and applauded the Supreme Court decision in June affirming discrimination by religious institutions.
Agudath’s report on their townhall says that Rep Olickal, along with Sen Ram Villivalam and Rep Mike Kelly, “expressed unequivocal support and pledged to fight for extending the [Invest in Kids] scholarship program.”
Unequivocal support for extending the Invest in Kids voucher program in Illinois is simply irreconcilable with addressing the state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people that is sweeping the country.
HRC’s state of emergency declaration and this town hall are urgently needed. The civil rights of LGBTQ+ children, youth and adults are under attack and being stripped away, including the most basic rights to be seen, be included and be safe in one’s community.
And in Illinois, even with a state government that has taken steps to make our state a haven for LGBTQ+ folks, we aren’t immune to hate, harassment and even violence—from schools to bakeries to hospitals to libraries.
Groups pushing strident transphobic and homophobic policies also want to erase accurate history of racial injustice, ban books, and demonize teachers. And these same extremists also want to defund and privatize the public school system via voucher schemes.
Let’s be clear. This is one fight.
It is no coincidence that about 1 in 5 of the schools getting Invest in Kids dollars in Illinois have it in writing on their website that they also discriminate against LGBTQ+ students. (And also no coincidence that the school getting the most voucher dollars in the state, located in the 16th House district, doesn’t allow kids to bring books of their own to school! Source, p.12)
Real allyship from Rep. Olickal and any of our elected officials requires a commitment to end the Invest in Kids program that funds discrimination with public tax dollars.
Strong public schools are legally required to serve all kids, and we all benefit from that as a society no matter our sexual orientation or gender identity.