After weeks of pushing by local community groups, a bill that would have strengthened Illinois' anti-bullying law was narrowly defeated in the Senate May 29.
HB5290 aimed to install anti-bullying model policies for Illinois schools in 2013. Conservative groups had fought against the bill, stating that the measure was the work of gay activists.
The bill was not LGBT-specific. Instead, it expanded on the current code, which already has LGBT protections, among other identity groups. The amendment would have mandated education, emotional support, counseling and other community-based solutions intended to address root causes of bullying in schools.
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who is a lesbian, introduced the bill, and it had the support of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, Affinity Community Services and other pro-LGBT groups. However, the bill was also backed by Prevent School Violence Illinois, a coalition of more than 50 groups that supported the passage of anti-bully legislation in 2010.
Cassidy previously told Windy City Times that she suspected conservative lawmakers objected to it in part because she is openly gay.
"It's not a gay bill," Cassidy said. "The bigger message is just how far the anti-gay forces will go."
The Senate voted down the measure the week prior, but a last minute postponement of the bill saved it from defeat for a week. Cassidy said she was hopeful that bill would still pass.