EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Inappropriate and coercive teacher-student relationships would be completely outlawed under new legislation introduced by state Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, closing a loophole revealed by reports of a former Metro East teacher’s sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student.
“My bill will close what is, honestly, an appalling blind spot in our current state laws,” Stuart said. “No educator should be having this kind of relationship with a student, and no student—regardless of age—can truly consent to this kind of relationship. The risk of coercion is too high, and the imbalance of power is too great.”
Stuart introduced House Bill 5809 in response to an incident in which a male former teacher at a Granite City high school published an online book detailing a reported sexual relationship with a female student, then 18 years old. The student would later obtain a restraining order against the teacher. The teacher resigned and has lost his teaching license, but was cleared of criminal wrongdoing because the student was above the legal age of consent at the time.
Stuart’s bill updates the legal definitions of various sexual offenses to include relationships between a teacher, coach or other school official, with any student – including students over the age of 18.
This would apply to both public and nonpublic secondary schools, and would apply to all interactions regardless of where they take place.
“Keeping students safe in and out of school is a fundamental part, not just of education policy, but of overall public safety policy,” Stuart said. “I plan to energetically pursue passage of this important bill into law as soon as possible.”