Lester: Families want law for uniform transgender student policies
Two suburban lawmakers tell me they're prepping legislation aimed at creating uniformity on transgender students following the nationally watched controversy over locker room access at Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211.
Republican Reps. Tom Morrison, of Palatine, and Jeannie Ives, of Wheaton, are putting final touches on a bill that would require schools across the state to have separate changing rooms for transgender students as well as spell out policies for transgender students' access to bathrooms on campus.
I met with the group of parents that approached the lawmakers about a broader state law after an agreement over locker room access for a transgender student was reached between District 211 and the federal Office of Civil Rights earlier this month. They say a state law would eliminate a patchwork of policies that exists across Illinois and help protect schools from future lawsuits.
The legislation could face an uphill battle in the Democratic-led legislature. If it did pass, ACLU Illinois spokesman Ed Yohnka points out a state law could still be challenged on multiple levels. Yohnka says he believes such a law would go against protections for transgender people that have been specifically written into the Illinois Human Rights Act.
I spoke to Arlington Heights insurance law attorney Matt McBride last week as part of our coverage of the College of DuPage and learned he's the brother of soccer star Brian McBride, a former Chicago Fire player and one of the all-time leading scorers of the U.S. national team.
Brian McBride, an Arlington Heights native, still is commuting quite a bit from the 'burbs to ESPN studios in Bristol, Connecticut, to appear on ESPNFC, a soccer show that's on many weekday afternoons, his brother tells me.
Ratings boost in Hanover Park
In Illinois, we're pretty used to getting downgraded, not upgraded. But Hanover Park Mayor Rod Craig tells me the village fire department's ISO insurance rating was boosted recently from a 4 to a 2, a category of safety standards reached by only a small percentage of fire companies across the country. He says it could help reduce insurance premiums going forward.
Filling wish lists at Ray Graham
Frank Capra's "It's A Wonderful Life" makes me tear up every Christmas season, particularly when angel Clarence muses how each man's life touches so many others. I found myself thinking of that as I spoke to Kevin Mize, whose younger brother with Down syndrome, John, has been a longtime resident at one of the Ray Graham Association's group homes for developmentally disabled adults in Addison.
Kevin Mize, a Chicago-based commercial investor and former chairman of the Chicago Auto Show, said it struck him during visits that furniture and appliances at the group homes and community centers needed to be replaced and repaired.
Each year, he says, he aims to do "a little bit" to help out the association -- and this year, that's a roughly $50,000 donation of appliances and items on residents' wish lists, which included karaoke machines.
"Music is a big, big influencer in our work with people with disabilities and singing is very, very popular," Chief Development Officer Lorri Nagle said.
New artist-in-residence at Fermilab
There's a new artist in residence at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Chicago artist Ellen Sandor is known for inventing an artistic medium called PHSColograms -- three dimensional pieces that combine photography, sculpture and computer graphics. One of the most famous examples of this type of work is her 1987 portrait of the AIDS virus, one of the first attempts to scientifically visualize the organism behind the disease. Officials say in the year ahead she'll create new works inspired by the science happening at the Batavia facility.
Doug Druick's 'Day Off'
The Art Institute of Chicago gave departing Director Douglas Druick, a 30-year museum employee, a tribute this week based on Director John Hughes' classic movie, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," which was shot around the suburbs in 1986. Museum employees recreated the scene where Bueller and friends play hooky from their suburban high school and make various stops around Chicago, including at the Art Institute. You can find their video on youtube.com, under the title, "Director Druick's Day Off."