SPRINGFIELD – Declaring that it is time for this type of thing to end, North Side State Senator Mike Simmons on Friday dismissed Republican Darren Bailey’s explanation for his use of the word ‘perversion’ during the debate on a bill on sex education, accusing the legislature in the north of the state. to sound a “dog whistle” intended to dehumanize the LGBTQ community.
âI felt like it was also meant to shame young people – to shame their bodies,â Simmons said. âThe reason I got up to get this wiped off the record is that I don’t want somebody to read this and internalize even more, you know, that kind of shame.
“It’s time for this stuff to end,” the freshman Democrat told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Bailey, the state senator and candidate for governor of the Southern Illinois GOP, made his remarks Thursday during debate on a bill to standardize sex education in state schools, including teaching students how to define consent, gender identity and different types of families, including cohabiting and same-sex couples.
The bill was passed after a heated debate in which Bailey said the standards “drive perversion into our schools.”
On Thursday, Bailey denied calling same-sex relationships a “perversion.”
Simmons, who is gay, countered that it is “hard to believe in good faith” that Bailey’s words were not aimed at the LGBTQ community.
âI took it as a dog whistle meant to dehumanize a whole range of diverse families … which includes LGBTQ people,â Simmons said.
The explosive comments echoed statewide on Friday, revealing the cultural rifts dividing Illinois – and the nation.
And Bailey, a farmer from Xenia, did nothing to calm the tremors.
The Xenia Republican expanded on his criticism in a Facebook post and live video, saying the “filth” of this legislation shows that “morality doesn’t seem to exist across the aisle.”
Bailey told the Sun-Times that Democrats like Simmons “like to call you and spread lies.”
In her Facebook post, Bailey wrote that âthe hyper-partisan majority has again failed in using its power to pass extreme law demanding an all-or-nothing curriculum for sex education in schools.
âThe bill is obscene and does not align with most community standards. I call on my colleagues in the legislature to carefully consider this bill, created by activist organizations that do not care about active parental consent or strong families, and to bring justice to all students in our state and vote no .
One of the organizations Bailey refers to is Planned Parenthood of Illinois. Bridget Leahy, the group’s public policy director, told The Sun-Times that she supports the bill “so kids get the information they need.”
âAt present, for these topics of personal health and safety and sexual health education, there are no standards,â she said, adding that the national council of the education will develop standards that align with national standards âwith input from, you know, educators. , other school staff, community members and parents. “
And as with same-sex couples, Leahy said that students who start kindergarten already âknow and seeâ that their classmates can have âtwo moms or two dadsâ¦ and some [their] friends have only one mother.
“And so, ignoring that, pretending it’s not happening is no service to our students.”
But Ralph Rivera, a lobbyist for the Pro-Family Alliance and the Illinois Right-to-Life, says the bill would “brainwash” students and lawmakers should leave those discussions to parents.
âFrom grades six to eight, students will need to define vaginal, oral and anal sex,â Rivera said. âBill says you have to do things according to your age. It doesn’t mean anything if you follow these standards. [They] are not age-appropriate. “
Rivera also challenged that the standards would require teachers and schools to âassertâ the gender identity of transgender students.
âThere is an anatomy, a biology that says a man has a penis and a woman doesn’t. We are not affected at birth, that’s what the child is, âhe said. âIf a child had this problem, it would be something to work with parents to help that child. There are many studies out there that indicate that children grow up out of it – you can’t be happy with what the child thinks. “
Leahy says belief comes “from a place of ignorance and fear.”
âIf schools don’t teach inclusive instruction on gender identity or sexual orientation, it creates a situation where bullying, stigma, harassment and discrimination will continue. We can’t deny the information to LGBTQ + students and the opportunity to live their authentic lives, âLeahy said.
John Jackson, visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Institute at Southern Illinois University, said the bill, along with the debate surrounding it, is part of “culture wars in this country that are never-ending.”
Jackson said he expects these debates to continue and that many will likely focus on curriculum issues.
âI think the curriculum issues are extremely important,â Jackson said.
But while the heated exchange between Simmons and Bailey would seem to reflect the stark differences between Chicago and parts of the upstate, Jackson argued that opinions vary across the state.
He said many residents of the Bailey District and other conservative parts of the lower state would likely agree with him. But not in other areas.
âThere are a lot of other places in the upstate where I think it would be less the case because I think a reasonable amount of downstate – and really a reasonable amount of rural America – have adopted a kind of a “ live and let live ” philosophy with respect to a lot of these types of questions.
Contributing: Rachel Hinton, reporting from Chicago.