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Illinois groups, pols react to State Farm dropping from LGBTQ book program

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Illinois LGBTQ politicians and organizations have expressed their disappointment in Bloomington-based State Farm withdrawing from The GenderCool Project after pressure from anti-LGBTQ activists.

The insurance company came under attack earlier this week after right-wing media reported it was asking some of its Florida sales agents to support GenderCool. The project helps distribute books that support LGBTQ children.

The LGBTQ Caucus in the Illinois General Assembly and Equality Illinois released a joint statement about State Farm’s withdrawal.

“We are disappointed State Farm chose to make a knee- jerk concession to bigotry rather than stand in solidarity with our LGBTQ community and our allies who support inclusion,” the statement said. “Given the rise of hate crimes and discrimination, decisions like this embolden those peddling hatred and make our society a more dangerous place.”

The statement said that the decision was in direct contradiction of State Farms claims to be ” ‘standing in collaboration with LGBTQ organizations’ to ‘ensure all communities are valued and treated with respect and dignity.’ ” The group said it would call out what they saw as hypocrisy, especially any LGBTQ marketing done during Pride month.

The statement was signed by State Sen. Mike Simmons (D-Chicago); Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris; State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago); State Rep. Lamont Robinson (D-Chicago); State Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake); and Equality Illinois CEO Brian Johnson.

Bloomington’s local LGBTQ organization Prairie Pride Coalition (PPC) was also disappointed by the insurer’s action

“We are disheartened that State Farm – in particular Chief Diversity Officer Victor Terry – announced it would no longer support this project that provides education and awareness and dispels myths about gender identity,” the group said in a Facebook post. “These goals are consistent with what holistic equity/diversity/inclusion programs embrace… but it appears that is not a priority for State Farm.”

PPC called on people to support Chicago-based GenderCool with donations. The group buys book bundles from GenderCool for distribution to libraries in McLean County and plan to keep buying books for schools and libraries that reflect the LGBTQ community.

“True pride in our community will continue in spite of this unfortunate action by State Farm,” the post concluded.

When contacted for comment, a State Farm spokesperson said they knew there were questions about the decision and that it didn’t mean they would stop donating to other LGBTQ programs.

“We help people. That starts with seeking to understand and having compassion toward one another, even when we don’t agree,” said the statement from State Farm spokesperson Roszell Gadson. “We cannot take back the frustration, hurt and emotion many have endured as a result of our actions and our response, but we can move forward knowing we will continue to respect and support everyone in our communities, representing every group within our society.”

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