Illinois is making progress on stamping out school bullying based on sexual orientation, according to a national advocacy group. GLSEN, the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, has published “From Statehouse to Schoolhouse,” a look at all 13,000 school districts in the nation and their policies. The report says about two-thirds of Illinois districts had anti-bullying policies, with only about eight percent specifically protecting members of the LGBT community.
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The work dates to 2008. “Illinois was in a different place than it is today,” says GLSEN research director Emily Greytak. “It was not what we would call a model-inclusive law. At that time, they said, you have to have bullying policies, but you don't need to particularly enumerate categories that we know are necessary for protection.” While we all know children can be cruel to one another – particularly one who is different – Greytek says having a policy can set expectations and let those who would be victimized know they will be taken seriously and that they have a recourse.