CHICAGO, Ill. - LGBTQ and allied groups met with Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner this week to discuss challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Illinoisans that might find remedy in actions by the state.

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The issues discussed during the meeting at Equality Illinois, the state's LGBTQ civil rights organization, included healthcare and human services, youth and schools, housing, immigration, LGBTQ cultural competency of state-funded programs, and the protection and promotion of civil rights.


The governor also presented ceremonial copies of two bills he signed this summer that were part of the 2017 Equality Illinois legislative agenda–bills that modernize the birth certificate law for transgender Illinoisans needing to correct their gender marker and ban the anti-LGBTQ panic defense in murder cases. He also signed this year a bill to build LGBTQ representation on state boards and commissions.


"We thanked the governor for signing these significant measures that advance LGBTQ civil rights," said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. "It is also important that he heard from diverse voices in the state about the challenges LGBTQ Illinoisans still face in achieving full equality in Illinois and being able to live fulfilling and authentic lives."


In addition to Equality Illinois, the organizations represented at the meeting included ACLU of Illinois, Affinity Community Services, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Association of Latinos/as Motivating Action (ALMA), Chicago House and Social Service Agency, Howard Brown Health, Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, Lambda Legal, and Pride Action Tank.


During the approximately half-hour meeting, the participants presented an overview of key issues and provided the governor with an expansive agenda for consideration by him and his administration. (The organization(s) requesting inclusion of the particular policy item on this list is indicated in parentheses.)


ISSUES AGENDA


Healthcare and Human Services


• Protection of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid, especially opposition against the Graham-Cassidy rewrite of health insurance (AIDS Foundation of Chicago)
• Gubernatorial leadership opposing ACA repeal (Howard Brown Health)
• Ensuring the Department of Insurance provides proper oversight to stop and take action against discrimination for people living with HIV and other chronic diseases in the ACA insurance marketplace (AIDS Foundation of Chicago)
• Adequate funding for HIV services and programs and launch statewide “Getting to Zero” HIV elimination plan (AIDS Foundation of Chicago)
• Restore Illinois Department of Human Services funding to levels of two years ago (Chicago House and Social Service Agency)
• Sign House Bill 40 to ensure access to safe and legal reproductive healthcare for all women in Illinois (Equality Illinois)
• HIV quality measures in Medicaid managed care (Howard Brown Health)
• Medicaid access to Hepatitis C cure treatments (Howard Brown Health)

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Housing


• More resources for LGBTQ youth who are experiencing homelessness (Pride Action Tank)
• Sign the Medicaid 1115 Waiver so that Medicaid can pay for tenancy support services in Illinois (Chicago House and Social Service Agency)


Youth and Schools


• Improve treatment and placement of LGBTQ youth in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) (Grayson Alexander)
• Improve access to mental health services for LGBTQ students in schools (Grayson Alexander)
• In order to foster consistent affirming policies across the state, the Illinois School Board of Education should issue guidance to schools for affirming and supporting transgender students, including by allowing them to use facilities that match their gender identities, as required by the Illinois Human Rights Act. (ACLU of Illinois)
• Regarding the fair and inclusive treatment of transgender students across Illinois, we want gender-affirming and clear guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education using existing district policies that have been working well for years and that is consistent with the Illinois Human Rights Act (Illinois Safe Schools Alliance)
• Child welfare experts believe that LGBTQ youth are over-represented in child welfare systems and that one of the most significant barriers to providing this population with better care is a lack of research. For this reason, we have been advocating for a study on the prevalence and experiences of LGBTQ youth in DCFS care. The Governor’s office can play an important role in identifying funding and intellectual resources to facilitate such a study. (ACLU of Illinois)


Training


• Requiring LGBTQ-cultural competency training for state-funded programs (Pride Action Tank)


Immigrant Rights and the LGBTQ Community


• Urge the governor to make statements against the President’s recent decisions regarding the pardoning of former Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted on criminal contempt for racial profiling of Latinos, and against the President's ban on recruitment of transgender individuals by the military (ALMA)
• Urge the governor to support greater protections for all immigrants, especially LGBTQ folks. For instance, the governor should support providing specific state resources to organizations providing both legal and advocacy services for LGBTQ immigrants seeking asylum and citizenship. An example of such an organization is the National Immigrant Justice Center, a Heartland Alliance program. Many of our LGBTQ immigrants face the threat of violence or death if returned to their countries of origins. (ALMA)


Civil Rights


• Enhance our civil rights protections by reducing the 15-or-more employee requirement to be a covered employer under the Illinois Human Rights Act (Dr. Anthony Kreis)


ORGANIZATIONS and INDIVIDUALS OFFERING ISSUES AGENDA


ACLU of Illinois
Contact: Khadine Bennett, Director of Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs


Affinity Community Services
Contact: Imani Rupert-Gordon, Executive Director


AIDS Foundation of Chicago
Contact: John Peller, President and CEO
Ramon Gardenhire, Vice President of Policy


Association of Latinos/as Motivating Action
Contact: Luis Roman, Board Member


Chicago House and Social Service Agency
Contact: Scott Ammarell, Chief Executive Officer


Equality Illinois
Contact: Brian C. Johnson, Chief Executive Officer


Howard Brown Health Center
Contact: David Munar, President and Chief Executive Officer


Illinois Safe Schools Alliance
Contact: Owen Daniel-McCarter, Executive Director


Lambda Legal
Contact: Christopher Clark, Midwest Regional Director


Pride Action Tank
Contact: Kim Hunt, Executive Director


Dr. Anthony Kreis
Professor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law
Advocate for Senate Bill 1761 (panic defense ban)
Equality Illinois Community Advisory Group


Grayson Alexander
First year student, Loyola University
Advocate for House Bill 1785 (birth certificate modernization law)
Equality Illinois Community Advisory Group

 

PICTURE CREDIT: C. GROST PHOTOGRAPHY

 

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