January 30, 2023

Advocates gather at the Statehouse, protest nearly two dozen anti-LGBTQ+ bills

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Hoosiers gathered at the Statehouse on Jan. 30 to protest bills targeting LGBTQ+ youth. - Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Hoosiers gathered at the Statehouse on Jan. 30 to protest bills targeting LGBTQ+ youth.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Hoosiers gathered at the Statehouse Monday to protest bills targeting LGBTQ+ youth. None of the nearly two dozen bills identified have received hearings yet – but activists are worried.

LGBTQ+ activists and advocates are concerned about a wide variety of bills this session. House Bill 1608 would ban educators from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity with students. HB 1524 would make it so the gender on a person’s birth certificate could not be changed.

But several bills – HB 1220, HB 1231, HB 1525 and SB 480 – would ban gender affirming care for transgender youth. And those bills rise to the top of many of their concerns.

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Zoe O’Haillin-Berne is the director of engagement for Indiana Youth Group. Indiana ranks second worst for youth suicide in the country – and she says these bills could make it worse.

“We’ve got these really bad statistics of what happens when youth are not being supported. So by making health care accessible to trans youth and non-binary youth and queer youth in general … it’s a valuable lifeline,” she said. “It’s going to keep a lot of these youth alive.”

Katie Blair is the ACLU of Indiana’s director of advocacy and public policy. She says the ACLU has gathered advocates and activists for the last four years. But this year is even more important.

“Unfortunately this year, we’ve just seen an onslaught of anti-LGBTQ bills – three times the amount we’ve ever seen,” Blair said.

None of the bills have been called for a hearing, but Blair said the ACLU will be ready when they do.

“Right now, we’re watching these bills like a hawk. As soon as one is scheduled, you can bet that you’re going to hear from us,” she said. “And there was a huge crowd out here today, and that crowd is going to be bigger and badder when those bills come up for a hearing.”

O’Haillin-Berne said there are serious consequences if these bills are signed into law.

“Indiana ranks second in the nation for youth who die by suicide in the nation. And I’m afraid that we could push that to number one if these go through,” she said.

Lauren is our digital editor. Contact her at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

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