'Unprecedented' reports of bullying, bias seen against LGBTQ students

Advocacy organizations across the state have received an "unprecedented" number of reports of bullying, harassment and discrimination against LGBTQ students, a coalition of groups said at a virtual news conference Tuesday.

"LGBTQ students must be treated with dignity and respect and must be supported and loved so that they can show up authentically as they are at schools, where they can be safe and learn and thrive," said Mony Ruiz-Velasco, deputy director of Equality Illinois, which hosted the meeting.

Name calling, destruction of property and assault are just some of the incidents reported recently to LGBTQ support organizations. Though anti-harassment provisions have existed in schools for decades, advocates attribute the increase at least partly due to the pandemic, said Grecia Magdaleno, policy and advocacy manager with the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance.

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