Chicago, June 4, 2012.... The Erie Community Unit School District school board has banned widely-used elementary school resources that teach respect for all families and address the anti-gay name-calling that has been documented in Erie schools.

“The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance has used the banned materials in schools throughout Illinois with great success and support,” says Shannon Sullivan, executive director of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance. “Unfortunately, the Erie superintendent and five members of the school board prioritized the extreme religious views of a handful of people over the health and wellbeing of all their students and families.”

The ban includes The Family Book by Todd Parr and anything associated with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), including the proven bullying prevention program No Name-Calling Week (endorsed by over 50 national education and youth organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America) and Ready, Set, Respect, lesson plans created in partnership with the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The superintendent has since clarified that the ban applies to any material that addresses “alternative lifestyles.”

These well-respected, age-appropriate, and effective resources are used in thousands of schools across the country. The GLSEN material was given unanimous support and The Family Book was given majority support from a district-appointed committee of parents, educators and community members. There has been an outcry of support for all of the banned materials, with over 100 Erie parents signing a petition to call for the reversal of the ban.

The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance also announces new survey data about support for LGBT-inclusive school lessons conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago. According to unpublished data from the Safe Spaces project research group’s 2012 parental attitudes about safe schools practices related to sexual orientation and gender identity in IL:

            - 81% of Illinois parents who identify as Evangelical Christians and 91% of Illinois parents living in rural areas say that schools should be safe for gay and lesbian students (88.7% average among all Illinois parents).

            - 73% of Illinois parents who identify as Evangelical Christians and 83% of Illinois parents living in rural areas say that schools should provide professional development for staff to create safe environments for lesbian, gay and bisexual students (80.7% average among all Illinois parents).

Please support the use of these materials in Erie!  Sign this petition and share it with all of your friends: