Lt. Gov Candidate Stephanie Trussell aligns with hate group

Opinion Piece, Published on August 17th, 2022. Written by Reed Sutman.

Illinois Family Institute publicized an event, on which the flyer states "Tired of schools pushing gender confusion, crazy pronouns, sexual grooming, homosexuality, mask mandates and Critcial Race Theory?". The flyer stated Lieutenant Governor Candidate Stephanie Trussell would be speaking. I was there, and she did.

The Macon County Republican Women, who previously tried to ban books from the Decatur Public Library(1) and advocates against sex education, shared the flyer for the event, stating the event was "on the education of our children in Illinois." The Macon County Republican Party shared one of their posts advertising the event.

Illinois Family Institute is a 501(c)3 non-political not-for-profit, which recorded $712,010 "Gross Receipts" and $597,958 "Contributions and Grants" on their 2019 tax return. Illinois Family Action(IFA) is their sister organization. IFA is a 501(c)4 political not-for-profit, which typically files a 990N e-postcard meaning they had less than $50,000 in income. In 2018, IFA filed a full tax return recording $71,244 in "Contributions, gifts, grants, and similar amounts received."

Coded Language

I've been following politics online for a few years now and it is extremely common for hate groups to use coded language to express racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic feelings or views. Usually the public statements are not so explicit that they would push away a mainstream voter who is uninformed on the specific issue that is being mischarachterized. This is sometimes called a "Dog Whistle". The idea is that only a racist person will pick up on the intent of coded racist language.

In my opinion, coded hate speech is still hate speech. In my opinion, if a group repeatedly uses hate speech, then they are a hate group. I've talked about a couple articles below, but you can read much more on their website & get a fuller picture of what they're preaching - misinformation, sometimes outright lies, and bigotry.

Illinois Family Institute is a hate group

The Souther Poverty Law Center(SPLC) has previously written about Illinois Family Institute using discredited research to support their claims. An IFI Article states SPLC is an "anti-christian hate group" and says "The Illinois Family Institute (IFI) is included on the “hate” groups list alongside white supremacist and white separatist groups for no reason other than our biblical view of marriage as a sexually differentiated union and our biblical views of sexual morality—views that are shared by the Roman Catholic Church, many Protestant denominations, many non-denominational churches, Orthodox Judaism, 2,000 years of church history, and the Bible." If you spend some time reading IFI's and IFA's articles, you'll quickly understand why I call them a Hate Group & why SPLC does too. I've heard this "anti-christian" narrative many times from hate groups.

In an anti-gay article, David Smith (Executive Director of IFI and IFA, according to 2018 IFA and 2019 IFI tax returns) writes "Any sexual behavior outside of marriage (one man, one woman) is sin". Smith derides Pritzker for his support of LGBTQ+ friendly bills including the HIV Decriminalization Bill, a marriage documentation bill that let's you request a marriage license with the term "spouse" instead of "bride" and "groom" if you wish.

On a page for churches and pastors, IFI links to a document titled "Religous Speech and 'Hate Crimes'" which asks questions like "Does the 'Hate Crimes' Law Apply to a Pastor’s Sermon about Homosexual Behavior?" and "Would a Pastor Violate the Hate Crimes Act if Someone Heard a Sermon about Homosexual Behavior or Gender and then Committed Violence?"

The document goes on later to say "Virtually everywhere that hate crimes laws have been enacted, 'hate speech' regulations follow. This is not surprising, considering the fact that 'hate crimes' are enacted solely to send a governmental message of disapproval of certain beliefs. For example, the sole difference between an assault that is already a crime under the criminal law and an assault classified as a 'hate crime' is the alleged belief of the perpetrator of the crime. Because an assault is already criminalized, enacting a 'hate crimes' law only serves the added purpose of trying to send a message of governmental disapproval of the purported beliefs of the perpetrator."

On Illinois Family Action's website, there is an article Know What Gaslighting is And Refuse The Abuse syndicated from which opens with "As with so many other words, phrases, and conditions, the term 'gaslighting' has become little more than a pejorative insult in our over-politicized culture, hurled with both increasing frequency and little regard for its actual meaning."

The "Gaslighting" article references a tweet from Rob Reiner and says "Did he say this to abusively manipulate the minds of his followers or was he himself abusively manipulated by the Democrat power brokers who control him?" then the first description of said Democrats is "The ones who fanatically assert that men can get pregnant." This last quote is transphobic. If you don't understand that trans people actually exist and you still think gender is a simple binary, please read this article from scientific american which talks about the science of biological sex & how it's not just a simple male/female. There's also a difference between biological sex & gender identity, but that's not what I'm writing about here.

What was said at the event (pastor)

I was not intending to report on this event, so I did not take good notes. They also told me I could not record audio or video, claiming it was a private event, even though it had been adverised publicly.

There was a black pastor who spoke for about 30 minutes at the start of the conference. Most of the audience was white and likely aged 60+. He alleged that our schools are indoctrinating children into sexuality, queerness, and socialism.

He cited Agenda 21, which is self-described as "a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment." The pastor showed the Sustainable Development Goals infographic (see below) and described Agenda 21 as "if you bow down to this small group of people," and the way they want you to live, then Agenda 21 promises these things. He misrepresented these "Goals" which include things like "No Poverty", "Zero Hunger", and "Decent Work And Economic Growth".

He acted like these were false utopian promises that required us to worship a small elite group of thinkers, as if they were not merely goals for our societies to work toward. I've not read up on Agenda 21, so I have nothing else to add here. He actually used terms like "worship" and "bow down to".

He talked about how great American education was prior to the Civil War, though he did not address how good education was for black Americans in slavery. He talked about how education got worse after the civil war. He complained about truancy offers and the state forcing children to go to government schools. He talked about government schools being indoctrination centers.

He alleged that public schools are much less effective than home schooling, stating that home schooled children do much better than public school children. He acted like this was totally a failure of public schooling. He did not address poverty, racial disparities in school performance, historic segregation, how schools are funded, how school money is actually spent, or any specific curriculum that is underperforming. He made sweeping generalizations.

Furthermore, he used stats, comparing public school student performance to home schooled student performance without addressing the priveleges that would often be required for home schooling. To home school your child, you likely need to be able to stay at home with them, work through their materials, and simply be present. Folks who are working full time likely could not do this. He said that home schooling is easier than you think, but did not account for factors that might make it unviable for many families.

He also did not address how unfair it is to compare stats of a relatively small population of homeschooled children to the stats of much greater numbers of public school children. "The number of homeschooled students increased from 850,000 in 1999 to 1,690,000 in 2016, and the percentage of students who were homeschooled increased from 1.7 percent to 3.3 percent over the same time period," according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The Center also reports "Total enrollment for public elementary and secondary schools was 47.2 million students in fall 2000, then 49.5 million students in fall 2010, and 49.4 million students in fall 2020."

He's comparing stats related to public schools, where virtually every kid can attend, to stats for homeschooling, where certain priveleges must be in place. And the total number of kids in public schools was 49.4 million in 2020, compared with 1,690,000 i homeschooling in 2016.

Lt. Gov Stephanie Trussell's speech at the event

Trussell told a personal story about her upbringing. She talked about her mom who worked very hard to put Trussell into a private school. She talked about feeling like a failure when she could not put her own kids into a private school. She talked about later making more money and being able to put them in a private school. She reiterated several of the talking points from the pastor, though in much lighter, more coded language.

Event Flyer

UN Infographic


(1) I cannot find the source post of the book ban request. I read the post awhile ago, and they said there were about 200 signatures to request a book be banned from the library. It's possible it was on the primary GOP page or within the comments of another post. If you'd like to confirm this, you can send a FOIA request to the Decatur Public Library for information regarding the attempted book ban.

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