A bill that would allow transgender students to receive state financial aid for college, as well as undocumented students, is on its way to Gov. J.B. Pritzker's desk.
House Bill 2691, known as the Retention of Illinois Students and Equity ( RISE ) Act, would allow those students to be eligible for financial aid from the state.
Myriad legal issues surround federal financial aid for transgender students, since eligibility is tied to Selective Service registration requirements; persons who are born male but identify as female are nevertheless required to register, for example, though they are technically not eligible for military service. This bill would at least clear the way for financial aid availability from state resources if a transgender student does not register with Selective Service.
"This is a matter of priorities," said state Sen. Omar Aquino ( D-Chicago ), who sponsored the bill in the Illinois Senate, in a statement. "You need to ask yourself as a legislator, 'Do I prioritize students?' 'Do I prioritize undocumented immigrants?' 'Do I prioritize transgender people and their rights?' All of these people pay taxes in our state and deserve to receive the benefits they pay into."
HB 2691 was sponsored in the Illinois House by state Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez ( D-Chicago ). Both chambers passed the legislation May 8.