OPRF’s Colamussi appointed to governor’s task force

Sophia Desai, Staffer

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As Ginger Colamussi and District 97 parent Mika Yamamoto drove into the city to the ACLU office, they discussed their excitement about meeting other members of the Illinois Gender Equity task force.

“We were a little nervous about going to the meeting and working at the state level and on a task force created to advise the governor, but excited,” says Colamussi. “Reflecting on the list of the other task force members that we would get to meet and work with.” 

The task force includes Evanston Township High School principal Marcus Campbell and E. Marshall, a sexual health project manager for Chicago public schools. 

Other figures hailed from big-name LGBT organizations like Lurie Children’s Hospital, Howard Brown Health Center, Safe Schools Alliance, Land and Legal, and the ACLU. 

Colamussi, an OPRF social worker, was approached in early September by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who asked her to join the task force. This task force was made to “fight for inclusion for everyone,” she said.

She has a personal stake in her involvement. “As a member of the LGBT community myself, I have always been interested in supporting LGBT rights of LGBT youth,” she says. “I have known many trans and non-binary youth and transgender and non-binary adults in my life and (I believe) it’s all of our responsibility to support each other in fighting for inclusion and equity for all people.” 

Raised in upstate New York, she went to a Catholic high school. 

“There were really no examples of LGBT people around me in my life that I was aware of,” she said, “so I didn’t know any adults or teens my age, no one in my school that I was aware of was out as LGBT.” 

At school, she would hear people using “gay” in a derogatory way and using homophobic hate speech. She said she had no real examples of LGBT role models, and avoided thinking about her own sexuality. 

She came out as lesbian in her 20s. Since then, says Colamussi, “I’ve always been aware that I wanted to help the LGBT community.”

She’s excited about the particulars of her position.

“We’re creating a model policy and procedure that schools across the state would take off the shelf… that they could actually implement at their school or district.” 

Last year at OPRF, she helped “lead our efforts to create supportive policies and procedures for transgender and non-binary students.” She says this included “help(ing) students to do things like hav(ing) their names and pronouns recognized at school or changed … have access to restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity and feel safe and (supported).”

Her work at OPRF includes ensuring students could “be a part of support groups and know supportive adults in the building who they can go to for issues concerning their gender…(and) have the ability to be in P.E. classes that match their gender identity and that feel safe and supportive of them among other things.”

Colamussi is one of the sponsors for A Place for All, a club where students who identify as part of the LGBT community can have their voices heard. 

“When there are supportive policies and procedures and supportive adults in place… you can see the difference in those people’s lives,” she says.