Graphic by Corrina Reiss.
The Butler Collegian is committed to sharing diverse viewpoints from across the university and to upholding values of free speech. However, the Collegian does not endorse or promote opinions contained within any letter to the editor.
The affiliated faculty of the race, gender and sexuality studies program, as well as the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and College of Communication, are in support of and work in solidarity with our LGBTQIA+ students and fellow Hoosiers in the face of legislation that is intended to undermine their flourishing and deny their existence. We call on members of the broader Butler community to join us, alongside the LGBTQIA+ Alliance, Black Student Union, Students for Justice in Palestine, Gender Equity Movement, Bulldogs for Universal Design, Latinx Student Union, Diversity Program Council, International Club, Asian & Pacific Islander Alliance, Students of Color Allied in Healthcare, Advocates for Autism, South Asian Student Association, Muslim Student Association, Hillel and the Student Foundation.
In Indiana there are presently several bills that, if legally codified, will make this a state where homophobia and transphobia will become even further entrenched. Examples of changes to come if this legislation passes include: erasure of the LGBTQIA+ community within the K-12 system and our public libraries; denial of gender-affirming and life-saving care for trans youth that enables them to be their authentic selves; and the criminalization of public restroom use that aligns with one’s gender identity. There are legitimate concerns that this legislation would also result in the intensification of violent incidents against incarcerated trans people.
During the week of Feb. 20, 2023, two such bills passed committee despite overwhelming empirical evidence and personal testimony that they will cause significant, including life-threatening, harm to members of the LGBTQIA+ community: HB 1608 on Feb. 20 and SB 480 on Feb. 22. On Feb. 23, HB 1608 quickly moved even further, passing in the House chamber.
HB 1608 is akin to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, stating that “a school, an employee or staff member of a school, or a third party vendor used by a school to provide instruction may not provide any instruction to a student in kindergarten through grade 3 on human sexuality.” In practice, this means that the lived experiences of children that are themselves queer or have queer kin will be denied in the classroom. HB 1608 also includes language that mandates schools, with grade level restrictions unspecified, to forcefully “out” students to their parents when there is a “request made by the student to change the student’s name, pronoun, title, or other word to identify the student that is inconsistent with the student’s sex,” endangering the student’s personal safety and well-being. Finally, “a school may not discipline an employee or staff member of the school for using a name, pronoun, title, or other word to identify a student that is consistent with the student’s legal name,” even if doing so is contrary to that student’s identity.
SB 480 directly undermines the safety, well-being and epistemic authority trans youth have with respect to their identity by “prohibit[ing] a physician or other practitioner from knowingly providing gender transition procedures to an individual who is less than 18 years of age (minor) that are intended to alter the gender of the minor or delay puberty.” This prohibition remains in place, even with parental support. One tension to attend to in the deeply problematic reasoning being used to motivate these bills is that the rhetoric in support of HB 1608 draws on the idea of “parental rights” while this bill runs contrary to that very idea; this is not to suggest, however, that we should ultimately appeal to reasoning that diminishes the rights, safety and well-being of children in service of their parents’ interests.
In an effort to halt this slate of hateful legislation and adopt a stance of solidarity, consider:
- Contact your legislators
- Attend rallies in opposition; the LGBTQIA+ Alliance regularly shares this information
- Donate, fundraise for and uplift funds that provide care to LGBTQIA+ youth, e.g., Indiana Youth Group, Damien Center and GenderNexus
- Avoid cis-heteronormative language that stigmatizes the LGBTQIA+ community, demeaning your fellow Bulldogs and Hoosiers
- Respect students’ chosen names and pronouns
- Attend the Developing Intentional Practices and Cultivating an Inclusive Environment for Trans, Non-Binary and Genderqueer Students Inclusive Pedagogy Workshop for Faculty on Friday, March 24, 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- Support legal challenges, voter outreach and education and local mutual aid efforts
- Educate yourself and loved ones about the diverse LGBTQIA+ community. For example, listen to or read about the lived experiences of community members and the history of this dynamic movement. Some resources include:
Affiliate Faculty of the Race, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
College of Communication
Black Student Union, BSU
Students for Justice in Palestine, SJP
Gender Equity Movement, GEM
Bulldogs for Universal Design, BUD
Latinx Student Union, LSU
Diversity Program Council, DPC
Asian & Pacific Islander Alliance, APIA
Students of Color Allied in Healthcare, SOCAH
Advocates for Autism, A4A
South Asian Student Association, SASA
Muslim Student Association, MSA
BU Student Foundation, BUSF
Collegian Content Managing Editor Mae-Mae Han currently serves as the president of Students of Color Allied in Healthcare, which — as an organization — signed onto this letter to the editor in support of the RGSS program. Managing Editor Kobe Mosley and Culture Co-Editor Leah Ollie are executive board members of Black Student Union, which also signed onto this letter. None of the above editors were contributors to this letter.