Light­foot, city’s only openly gay may­oral can­di­date, un­veils LGBTQ pol­icy agenda

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY FRAN SPIEL­MAN, CITY HALL RE­PORTER fspiel­man@sun­times.com | @fspiel­man

The only openly gay can­di­date in the crowded race for mayor on Thurs­day chose Na­tional Com­ing Out Day to lift the veil on her pol­icy agenda for the po­lit­i­cally po­tent LGBTQ com­mu­nity.

If Lori Light­foot is elected mayor, the Chicago Pub­lic Schools would work to es­tab­lish “24-hour drop-in cen­ters” to pro­vide LGBTQ youth now strug­gling with home­less­ness places to sleep and lock­ers to store their be­long­ings.

CPS would also im­ple­ment an “LGBTQ+in­clu­sive cur­ricu­lum” to pre­vent bul­ly­ing against stu­dents based on their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity.

Light­foot’s agenda also calls for the ap­point­ment of three may­oral LGBTQ li­aisons to work di­rectly with the South, West and North sides.

Chicago po­lice of­fi­cers would get spe­cial train­ing to end po­lice pro­fil­ing of trans­gen­der peo­ple, pre­vent vi­o­lence and hate crimes against them and ag­gres­sively in­ves­ti­gate those crimes when they do hap­pen.

She also would create a task force to in­ves­ti­gate the re­cent mur­der of “two trans women of color.”

The for­mer Po­lice Board pres­i­dent promised to “ramp up” that erad­i­ca­tion cam­paign while con­duct­ing a “de­tailed study of health care out­comes” for LGBTQ Chicagoans.

Light­foot said the need for 24-hour drop-in cen­ters was crys­tal­lized by the heart­break­ing sto­ries she heard this week from gay teens, most of them African-Amer­i­cans, while vis­it­ing a North Side drop-in cen­ter.

“They don’t feel safe in their neigh­bor­hoods. They don’t feel ac­cepted. They have all kinds of en­coun­ters with po­lice. And they’re home­less be­cause they’re not be­ing ac­cepted by their fam­i­lies. Many of them are on the street,” Light­foot said.

“This cen­ter that I went to — there were about 20 peo­ple there . ... For ev­ery one per­son they help, there are prob­a­bly four or five that are on the street that don’t have ac­cess to ser­vices. A sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age of the home­less pop­u­la­tion is LGBTQ. It’s heart­break­ing.”

Light­foot noted the Chicago Po­lice De­part­ment has only one LGBTQ li­ai­son for the en­tire city.

“There are trans women who were killed on the South Side. And mem­bers of that com­mu­nity don’t feel like the po­lice de­part­ment is bring­ing the level of rigor and re­sources to in­ves­ti­gat­ing those mur­ders that they have in other com­mu­ni­ties,” she said.

Ald. Tom Tun­ney (44th), Chicago’s first openly gay al­der­man, ac­knowl­edged that home­less­ness re­mains a ma­jor prob­lem among gay youth.

But he ar­gued that Lake View has had a 24-hour shel­ter known as “The Crib” for LGBTQ youth for at least a decade. Chicago can’t af­ford to du­pli­cate that at pub­lic schools, he said.

“It’s pretty ex­pen­sive to keep a school open all night long. Do I endorse open­ing pub­lic schools at night? Not un­less I have the fi­nan­cial im­pact of what that in­volves,” Tun­ney said.

Tun­ney agreed with Light­foot about the need for an LGBTQ li­ai­son in ev­ery one of the city’s 22 po­lice dis­tricts, in­stead of just one in his home Town Hall dis­trict.

“There are les­bian and gay peo­ple in ev­ery neigh­bor­hood, and they need to have safe spa­ces. Not only where they can be them­selves, but also where the po­lice are sen­si­tive and more sen­si­tive than they’ve been city­wide,” the al­der­man said.

Lori Light­foot

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