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Anti-bullying bill in Illinois defeated again, but could still pass before session ends


By Scottie Thomaston

The Illinois Family Institute, a hate group based in Illinois, has been pushing ‘concerns’ about the proposed anti-bullying bill in the state. The bill is not a “LGBT bill” – it doesn’t have any pro-LGBT provisions, and there are already LGBT protections within other laws in the state. It is a standard bill focused on anti-bullying efforts:

[The bill] Provides that, on or before January 1, 2013, the State Board of Education shall develop a template for a model bullying prevention policy and sets forth requirements concerning the template.

Although it’s an uncontroversial anti-bullying bill, the concerns raised by the Institute are almost solely based on fears of gay people:

Sen. Kyle McCarter (R) appears to be the leading opponent of the bill, but his talking points parrot the Illinois Family Institute, a fringe spin-off of the American Family Association that has been declared an anti-gay hate group in its own right. McCarter and the IFI insist that the bill should include an “opt-out” provision for any students who don’t want their anti-gay religious beliefs challenged with basic knowledge about the nature of sexual orientation:

MCCARTER: There are anti-bullying programs that have an agenda, to only protect one class of individuals. Some of these programs are very good. They indeed encourage kids not to bully. But there are programs throughout the United States, used in some high schools and universities, that really have just a pro-homosexual agenda, and nothing but that.

McCarter seems to believe that this policy would be a step toward mandating programs about homosexuality, though nothing in its text lends itself to this claim.

Conservatives in Illinois killed the bill last week, and then yesterday another vote was attempted. The bill was killed again:

The legislation fell one vote short of passage amid concerns raised by anti-gay lobbyists that it could be used to promote acceptance of homosexuality.

An equality group in the state had a rather pointed statement about the bill’s second death:

“The Senate vote was a win for bullying, both in the classroom and in the capitol building,” said Shannon Sullivan, Executive Director of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance. “Senators were blindsided by issues that weren’t even on the table, pressured by radical lobbyists that have no problem threatening the wellbeing of Illinois youth for their own personal gain and out-of-touch agenda.”

Legislators in the state are saying the bill isn’t dead yet, however:

State Sen. Heather Steans postponed a vote, saving the legislation from defeat. The bill is headed back to the General Assembly before it returns to the Senate.

Cassidy believes the bill is still likely to pass by the end of the week. It was rejected by just one vote, and two supportive senators were not present for the vote, said Cassidy.

“But it’s a weird time of year,” she said. “Anything can happen.”

We’ll see if the bill can get the required votes for passage before the end of the session.

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