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Illinois school board member: No gay candidates for superintendent job

Illinois school board member: No gay candidates for superintendent job

CHICAGO – An Illinois LGBT advocacy group is calling for the resignation of Warren Township school board member for suggesting that the search for a new school superintendent exclude gay and lesbian candidates.

Liz Biondi
Liz Biondi

At a public meeting of the board on Dec. 2, 2014 in Gurnee, Ill., board member Liz Biondi expressed that she is “going to be very blunt” and proceeded to caution the search firm against bringing gay or lesbian candidates.

Said Biondi: “I’m concerned that if we hired someone that we were not aware of that background, that they may be fighting more personal fires than superintendent fires, I guess is what I’m going to say.”

While some participants at the meeting noted that there are successful gay and lesbian school officials in other districts, and that they can’t lawfully ask about job candidates’ sexual orientation, Biondi retorted: “Well, not until they get here.”

Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, called Biondi’s remarks “reprehensible.”

“Public officials have a duty to not only follow the law but to expect that kind of behavior by others in official positions,” said Cherkasov, in a statement. “Biondi clearly demonstrated that she is not worthy of the trust to hold a position on the school board.”

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“She needs to resign from the board effective immediately, certainly before the search process proceeds,” Cherkasov said.

Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik also said she wants Biondi to resign. “She’s an embarrassment to this community. The comments are outrageous, horrible, and she does not represent our community,” said Kovarik.

The Illinois Human Rights Act of 2006 specifically precludes discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and this law also covers all public agencies, including school boards.

Update: Biondi said Thursday she apologizes “to everyone I offended” by stating she doesn’t want to hire someone who is gay to replace the retiring superintendent, but that she has no immediate plans to resign.

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