Statement of Khadine Bennett Legislative Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois:

Today's final, favorable vote on House Bill 5707 sends a powerful signal of hope for students all across Illinois who have been subjected to harassment and even violence in schools across Illinois and across the nation.  Data shows that nearly one in four students in Illinois report some physical violence directed toward them at school.   Students are bullied for any number of reasons - for their appearance, because of socio-economic status, because of a learning disability or physical disability or other reasons.  Whatever the causes of such bullying, we should make school a place of learning and exploration, not fear and exclusion.

House Bill 5707 builds on recommendations of a task force on bullying, and ensures that local school districts have the tools and policies to address bullying in their local schools, addressing these situations in a fashion that the local school district believes is appropriate.

We thank Representative Kelly Cassidy and Senator Heather Steans for their leadership in advancing this measure through the General Assembly.   Students who have been victim of bullying -- and their family members -- must be grateful by the strong signal sent by this legislation.  We urge Governor Quinn to quickly sign this historic legislation.