Former Chicago Public Schools CEO and current mayoral candidate Paul Vallas spoke at a fundraiser for Awake Illinoisa group that has been criticized for its transphobic and homophobic rhetoric, The Chicago Reader reported.
The group hosted a fundraiser in Naperville about school choice in June, and Vallas was a featured panelist. In addition to promoting school choice, the nonprofit has opposed COVID safety protocols in schools as well as the teaching of what it calls "critical race theory."
In July, Awake Illinois was among the right-wing groups that publicly criticized Uprising Bakery and Cafe in suburban Lake of the Hills for planning a family-friendly drag show. The bakery was subsequently vandalized and forced to cancel the event.
On its website, Awake Illinois, among other things, urges people to "opt out of perverse comprehensive sex ed."
In his remarks, Vallas discussed his experience and spoke about school choice. He also accused Chicago Teachers Union leadership of using intimidation to control teachers.
In an interview with Windy City Times when he ran for mayor in 2019 (at www.windycitytimes.com/lgbt/ELECTIONS-2019-MAYOR-Paul-Vallas-on-background-minimum-wage-LGBT-issues-/65402.html ), Vallas said, in part, "My approach has always been to embrace and support the LGBT community and let my actions speak louder than my words as I fight for rights and services for all Chicagoans," adding that he "supported marriage equality on record since 2001."
WCT has reached out to Vallas.
[UPDATE] Vallas later condemned Awake Illinois, according to an Aug. 2 Chicago Tribune article.
However, Vallas stumbled into another controversy after referring to himself as a "lifelong Democrat." Chicago Board of Elections records revealed that Vallas voted in the Republican primary this summerand most of the money he has raised so far in his bid to become Chicago mayor has come from prominent Republican donor Michael Keiser.
The full article on Vallas' attendance at the Awake Illinois event is at chicagoreader.com/news-politics/paul-vallas-rubs-shoulders-with-the-far-right/ .