Indiana Lawmakers are Making Life Worse for LGBTQ Youth

This month, legislators in Indiana voted to pass a bill that would ban transgender girls from playing sports with other girls. This damaging discriminatory bill quickly gained traction even though Indiana does not seem to have any problem with transgender girls participating in athletics.

Efforts to prevent transgender girls from participating in school sports are grossly misleading. The proponents of this bill narrowly decide that a transgender girl may outperform her gender peers. To avoid this, they prevent transgender children from participating at all.

This shows that transgender children are not at a young age and does not detract from the physical and social benefits that athletics in schools is supposed to provide. The outcome can be devastating, especially for children who may already be struggling with exclusion and isolation at school.

But bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth is a real problem in Indiana – and Indiana has not taken any worthwhile steps to address it. Legislators have not even scheduled a hearing for a pending bill that would prevent discrimination in education based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and protect children from being punished for who they are.

This winter, I spoke to LGBT students in Indiana who described how difficult school environments can be. One young woman told me that she would regularly hear anti – LGBT slurs in high school, and that she had never heard positive messages about LGBT issues in the classroom. Although her school had a gay-straight alliance, she did not join because she feared the consequences of coming out of school.

Now in college, she said that “being able to reach out to others has had a huge impact on my mental health, just being able to be completely myself to everyone around me.”

But lawmakers in Indiana and elsewhere are putting pressure, not motivation, on safety and self-worth. Many states are promoting restrictions on transgender children in schools – limiting the bathrooms they can use, what sports they can play, and whether they can learn about themselves in class.

These attacks severely affect the mental health of LGBT youth, even when they are not legalized. Young transgender people pay attention when they are publicly attacked by demons and demons, and it is understandable that they lose faith in the adults who are supposed to protect them when those adults fail to stand up for their rights.

Other states have adopted laws to combat the abuse of LGBT students. In 17 states, legislation explicitly prohibits discrimination against LGBT students in schools, and 21 states explicitly prohibit bullying on those grounds. Other states have adopted regulations or teacher codes that address discrimination and bullying. Indiana did neither.

Support for young people should not be controversial. If the interests of students are very much at stake in Indiana lawmakers, they should take meaningful action to address bullying, discrimination and mental health challenges for LGBT students – and the legislation that would do the right thing that’s worse to abandon.

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