Photo by Lauren Gdowski.
THE BUTLER COLLEGIAN | SPRING 2023 EDITORIAL BOARD
To our fellow Butler community members,
Over the past two issues, we have reported on the subject of Indiana bills HB 1608 and SB 480. In letters to the editor, we have heard from Butler student organizations, faculty and students on exactly how destructive these bills would be to the LGBTQ+ community in the state of Indiana. As an editorial board and as a group of students dedicated to defending the rights and freedoms of marginalized groups, it is critical for us to stand with our peers and voice our opposition to these bills.
As we write to you, legislatures across the country debate the right of LGBTQ+ people to exist. These attacks have specifically targeted transgender and gender non-conforming individuals; some have gone so far as to call for the total eradication of said individuals.
The ACLU is currently tracking 428 bills, as of publication, in legislatures across the country that target the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals. Eighteen such bills are currently advancing in the Indiana state legislature; if passed, these bills would significantly impede upon the safety and health of LGBTQ+ people across the state of Indiana — in particular, they would cause direct harm to LGBTQ+ youths.
Across the country, similar legislation limits the healthcare, self-expression and public life of LGBTQ+ individuals. In Tennessee, for example, drag — within public spaces as determined by legislators — is now effectively a criminal act; this legislation subjects any individual who does not conform to gender in a manner determined by the state in a public place to legal action, including arrest.
The tone of this legislation is eerily reminiscent of a time in which homosexuality was treated as a disease. Legislators seem to be attempting to regress our country back to a not-so-distant time during which LGBTQ+ people were further vilified, entirely legislated against, forcibly sterilized and otherwise alienated. Borrowing from centuries-old playbooks of “obscenity laws,” legislators across the nation are making retrogressive steps towards policing gender expression in public life, and queer existence as a whole. This is unacceptable.
In addition to the extensive list of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, Indiana’s vague hate crime laws provide no protections for queer individuals. However, in the United States, LGBTQ+ people are nine times more likely to experience violent hate crimes than non-LGBTQ+ people. The assault on LGBTQ+ rights represented by these bills and the lack of legal protections for queer people have made violence against LGBTQ+ people an even more real possibility.
For LGBTQ+ youths, these bills are a matter of life and death. According to the Trevor Project, 45% of LGBTQ+ minors in Indiana seriously considered suicide in 2022. This includes an appalling 54% of transgender and gender non-conforming youth. In Indiana, 15% of LGBTQ+ youth actually attempted suicide in 2022. Furthermore, research from the Trevor Project indicates that youths in supportive communities and in schools that are supportive of their identities have substantially lower rates of attempted suicide. Indiana’s legislature is deliberately creating a political climate that could be lethal for LGBTQ+ youth.
The bills in our legislature are not just about policing gender identity and sexuality and stifling queer expression; they are aimed at the total eradication of queerness.
These are not the actions of a legislature that values “liberty perpetuated,” as our state constitution guarantees. These are not the actions of a state government that is “instituted for [our] peace, safety, and well-being.” These are not the actions of representatives that care about the welfare of their constituents.
Let us be clear: human rights are not up for debate. Bills such as these that restrict the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals are abominable, and our opposition is unequivocal.
If passed, these bills would have concrete ramifications. This nationwide wave of legislation would directly affect members of our editorial board, numerous members of our staff at The Collegian, as well as countless others among our peers, faculty and staff at Butler. We have personally seen the harm of the bigoted ideologies these bills represent, and our opposition to them is only strengthened by our own experiences.
We call upon the Indiana state legislature to block the further procession of these bills, and on Governor Eric Holcomb to veto them if passed in the legislature. We call upon the administration of Butler University, and especially President Danko, to publicly condemn this legislation. We call upon the people of Indiana to demand better from our elected representatives in the Statehouse and to vote them out of office if they fail to perform to the standard that we all deserve.
To get in contact with your legislators regarding these bills, visit iga.in.gov. To learn more about the ACLU’s efforts to track and stop these bills, visit aclu.org. For those seeking resources to support LGBTQ+ communities in Indiana, Indiana Youth Group, the Damien Center and GenderNexus are all local resources committed to furthering the safety and health of fellow Hoosiers. On a national scale, The Trevor Project is committed to the mental well-being of LGBTQ+ youth.
Our editorial board is comprised of students hailing from nine different states; in choosing Butler, each of us have chosen to call Indiana our home. We want to continue to make this state a home where it is possible — for all of us — to live authentically and without fear.
— The Butler Collegian Spring 2023 Editorial Board