Survey: Many Illinois LGBT Youth Face Combative School Environments

Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) middle and high school students in Illinois face hostile school environments and lack access to important educational resources, according to state-level data from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network's (GLSEN) "2013 National School Climate Survey."

The survey, taken in 2013 and released this October, included 7,989 LGBT students, including 279 from Illinois.

The 2013 snapshot for Illinois shows most LGBT students surveyed in the state have faced some form of victimization at school, with 7 in 10 students saying they have been verbally harassed based on their sexual orientation in the past year. Another 56 percent of Illinois respondents said they have faced verbal harassment at school due to their gender expression. 

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Report: Walmart A 'Massive' Coal Consumer In Illinois

Nearly 292,000 tons of coal are burned each year to power Walmart's facilities in Illinois, producing 539,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, shows a new report examining the carbon footprint of the nation's largest retailer.

Out of all U.S. states and the District of Columbia, Walmart's coal consumption is the second highest in Illinois behind Texas, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's (ILSR) report titled, "Walmart's Dirty Energy Secret: How the Company's Slick Greenwashing Hides Its Massive Coal Consumption."

Walmart is one of the country's biggest users of coal-fired electricity overall, with its U.S. stores and distribution centers collectively responsible for the annual consumption of 4.2 million tons of coal, resulting in almost 8 million metric tons of carbon pollution each year, the report found.

"If you put all of that coal into rail cars, you'd have a train 43,000 rail cars long that stretched for over 420 miles," report co-author Stacy Mitchell, a senior researcher at ILSR, said on a conference call with reporters.

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Workers Claim Wage Theft, Unfair Retaliation At CD One Price Cleaners (VIDEO)

Former workers of a dry cleaners in Chicago's South Loop filed a federal lawsuit against the company Monday morning, alleging that they were asked to complete more work than was possible, forced to work overtime without proper compensation and experienced unfair retaliation when they complained.

"These are pretty straightforward violations of the law. You have to pay your workers for every hour they work," said Sean Morales-Doyle, the lawyer representing the three former workers.

Hortensia Castaneda, Naivi Cobos and Ana Rodriguez filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court claiming CD One Price Cleaners unlawfully retaliated against its workers and violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Illinois Minimum Wage Law and the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act.

The three women worked at the CD One Price Cleaners, at 2200 S. Michigan Ave. Their lawsuit alleges that they were required to do more work than was feasible during their shifts, such as ironing 200 garments per hour, and were also responsible for making hangers for those garments at the same time.

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Durbin On Immigration Reform Executive Orders: 'History Is Being Made' (VIDEO)

Immigration reform supporters gathered for a viewing party of President Barack Obama's executive order speech on Friday in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood.

"We're not a nation that kicks out strivers and dreamers who want to earn their piece of the American dream," Obama said during his speech at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas. "We didn't raise the Statute of Liberty with her back to the world, we did it with her light shining."

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), a staunch proponent of immigration reform and one of about two dozen attendees at the Casa Michoacan viewing party, said "history is being made."

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School Custodians Rally For Higher Wages, Paid Sick Leave (VIDEO)

Low-wage school custodians from Elgin, Wheaton, Rockford and other areas picketed outside of the Illinois Association of School Boards conference in Chicago Friday morning, demanding paid holiday and sick days.

Chanting "Hey, District U46. Your low wages make us sick," the custodians, hired by school district contractors and represented by SEIU* Local 1, also called for better pay and health benefits.

"We want to show (school board officials) that we're not happy with what they pay to our custodians," Carolina Villalobos, an SEIU Local 1 organizer, said outside of the Hyatt Regency Chicago, where the conference was held.

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