Illinois Senate passes REACH Act

Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. (Photo via Good Free Photos)

The Illinois Senate passed the REACH Act on Thursday, May 20. The bill would update state health and sex education standards to be comprehensive and inclusive.

According to WEEK-TV, Republicans objected to the bill, with State Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) being among the loudest.

“Here we are dealing with absolute nonsense of putting perversion into our schools,” Bailey, according to the TV station. “Yeah, that’s what it is. It’s perversion.”

Bailey has a long history of opposing any legislation that is inclusive. As a state representative, including the Inclusive Curriculum Bill and a transgender-supportive state Medicaid policy. In February, he announced he would run for governor in 2022.

Democrats blasted him for his remarks.

“At no point is it saying that a high schooler is gonna get the same education as a second grader. They don’t even get the same mathematical education,” Sen. Celina Villanueva said. “You can keep your perversion and we’ll push for actual education of our students.” WEEK reported she also called Bailey’s comments “Trumpian.”

State Sen. Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) the first out gay state senator, critzized Bailey for derogatory language.

“This is the Senate for the state of Illinois,” Simmons said, according to the TV station. “I expect a certain degree of decorum and respect that we all would afford each other – I certainly intend to lead by example. I find the word perversion to be deeply offensive and would ask that it be stricken from the record.”

The bill passed on a party line vote.

If passed and signed into law, the REACH Act would require age-appropriate, comprehensive, and inclusive personal health and safety education for K-12 public school students in Illinois. School districts would keep control of selecting the curriculum and parents would be able to remove their children from classes.

The REACH Act outlines age appropriate as:

  • Grades K-2: instruction focuses on personal safety, identifying trusted adults who children can rely on for guidance and support, and respecting others.
  • Grades 3-5: instruction continues to focus on personal safety and healthy relationships and discusses bullying, harassment, abuse, consent, anatomy, puberty, hygiene, body image, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
  • Grades 6-12: instruction builds on prior instruction about healthy relationships by covering issues like consent, sexual harassment, abuse, and interpersonal violence, provides additional information on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and covers the benefits of abstinence, behavioral changes, barrier methods like condoms, medication, contraception, and sexually transmitted infection prevention measures.

The bill now goes to the Illinois House.