Chicago - On National Coming Out Day, when we should be celebrating the full diversity of the LGBTQ community in Illinois, Equality Illinois is extremely disappointed in the unbelievable lack of LGBTQ representation among the more than 400 appointments made by Governor Rauner to state boards and commissions during Fiscal Year 2018, the civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer ( LGBTQ ) Illinoisans said on Thursday. The data is contained in a report quietly published last week by the Governor's Office.
Of the 431 appointments the governor made between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, only 1 appointee publicly identifies as a lesbian, gay, or bisexual person. Furthermore, despite the new LGBTQ Public Service Law that took effect on January 1, 2018, transgender Illinoisans who apply or who are appointed aren't even being counted. The data is contained in the Governor's FY18 Gubernatorial Boards and Commissions Act Report that was released on October 1. The report is available online.
"In a year when LGBTQ people are engaging in the political process in record numbers across the country, the lack of LGBTQ representation and visibility in appointments by Gov. Rauner to state boards and commissions is frustrating and extremely disappointing," said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. "On behalf of the estimated 400,000 LGBTQ adults who live in Illinois, we call on the Governor's Office to be more aggressive in recruiting top talent and do better to ensure that Illinoisans of all backgrounds are inspired to lend their strengths and talents to public service. We must live up to our shared value of inclusion in the Land of Lincoln."
The report also demonstrated a shocking lack of diversity among many dimensions. African-Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and women are all under-represented among the appointees to Illinois state boards and commissions.
The data on LGBTQ identity in the report is collected because of the LGBTQ Public Service Law, an initiative of Equality Illinois and sponsored by Sen. Scott Bennett and Rep. Will Guzzardi in 2017. The measure allows individuals who apply to serve on boards and commissions under the authority of the Governor to voluntarily publicly identify as LGBTQ. Prior law requires applicants to a state board or commissions to self-identify their gender, disability status, and ethnicity. All of this data must be published annually in a report to the General Assembly of the demographic data of individuals who apply for boards and commissions and for those who are appointed. The state website appointments.illinois.gov contains information about the boards and commissions including the annual report of demographic data of the appointees.
"When LGBTQ people are visible, we are powerful. The LGBTQ Public Service Law is supposed to contribute to a leadership path for LGBTQ individuals who want to engage in public service and build a better Illinois," Johnson said. "In turn, those officials can share our experiences and stories as LGBTQ people. That helps when we work to advance policies that are inclusive, affirming, and fair."
—From a press release