032123CM0010sSPRINGFIELD – To address racial discrimination in schools, State Senator Laura Murphy championed a new law to increase protections for students.

“Equal education means a commitment to combat racism and discrimination head-on,” said Murphy (D-Des Plaines). “Written policies in public schools are the foundation for change, ensuring that no student faces prejudice or retaliation for speaking out against injustice.”

Under the law, each school district will be required to create, implement and maintain at least one written policy that prohibits discrimination and harassment against students based on race, color or national origin. Additionally, the policy includes language prohibiting retaliation against students for submitting a complaint.

In a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, an estimated 5.2 million students aged 12 to 18 were bullied in the 2018-2019 school year. One in four of those students experienced bullying related to their race, national origin, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation. In the same school year, the report says there were 1.6 million students who were subjected to hate speech due to their identity. Among those incidents, half targeted students’ race and 24% targeted their national origin.

“We need to create a nurturing space where students feel empowered to report without any bias,” Murphy said. “It is a critical step in fostering an inclusive, accepting community where diversity is celebrated and all students thrive. Students need to feel comfortable and safe, it is the school’s responsibility to provide this environment so kids can learn.”

Senate Bill 90 was signed into law on Friday.