Illinois group sees small victory in Schuyler County after Sheriff's anti-gay comments
Chicago, IL —
The Schuyler County Board voted unanimously to mandate diversity training for all County department heads, employees and all members of the board, following discriminatory remarks made by Schuyler County Sheriff Don Schieferdecker.
"This is an amazing achievement for Civil Rights in Illinois," stated Anthony Martinez, Executive Director of The Civil Rights Agenda
(TCRA). "Education is one of the most important weapons we have in our arsenal against discrimination."
Martinez gave a moving statement to the west-central Illinois county board and linked Schieferdecker's remarks of "fag Jew boy" on Facebook to the cyber-bullying that puts LGBT youth at risk. He pointed out the importance that elected officials are role models for children.
"This is a very sensitive time in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community," said Martinez. "Last September, the community experienced nine suicides of lesbian and gay children or those who were perceived to be lesbian or gay due to bullying and cyber-bullying. The tragedy of these suicides brought to light The Ram
pant discrimination and bullying of gay and lesbian people. This is what Sheriff Schieferdecker has done."
In March, Schieferdecker admitted
to calling a subordinate a "little fag Jew boy" on his Facebook page.
"It was a -- what I thought to be a harmless joke between friends and employees that I wasn't aware of that was going out worldwide," Schieferdecker said. The Civil Rights Agenda
, which has called for Schieferdecker's resignation, says it recognizes the County Board's limited authority over the separately elected Sheriff and plans to continue to achieve its objective, the resignation of Schieferdecker. TCRA has created an online petition
In the interim, TCRA will work with Schuyler County personnel to ensure the proper implementation of the now mandated diversity training.