CHICAGO – Concerned about teachers who inappropriately pursue relationships with the students they teach, state Rep. Fran Hurley is backing a new proposal that would explicitly prohibit teachers, coaches and school officials from having a sexual relationship with students, regardless if they have reached age 18.
“When you choose to become a high school educator, you’re entrusted to behave appropriately around all students,” Hurley said. “Unfortunately, some teachers have chosen to take advantage of our kids in high school by acting like things are okay once the student turns 18. There’s a clear power imbalance and often coercive behavior. That’s why this legislation spells out consequences for school staff who choose to cross that line.”
Hurley is supporting House Bill 5809, which would close a loophole that has enabled some teachers and school staff to begin a relationship with a student in their care once they turned 18. Under current law, such relationships could occur without legal consequence. The Hurley-backed proposal would impact secondary education students between age 18 and 21, and applies to both public and nonpublic secondary schools. Inappropriate interactions that take place off school grounds would still be subject to penalty.
“In particular this bill will target those who are grooming students in the run up to their 18th birthday as well,” Hurley said. “As a parent, I know that we must take this topic seriously. This measure will help prevent the development of inappropriate relationships in our schools, and our kids will be safer for it.”