Transphobic protest at NCAA Headquarters in downtown Indianapolis

On Thursday, January 12, a transphobic group of protestors gathered outside NCAA Headquarters downtown to protest against transgender athletes being allowed to compete in sports.

From the Indiana Lawyer: Demonstrators protest NCAA’s transgender athlete inclusion

Former Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines and about two dozen demonstrators outside the NCAA convention Thursday protested the inclusion of transgender athletes in women’s sports and threatened the association with legal action if it doesn’t change its policies.

Gaines competed in last year’s NCAA swimming and diving championships against Penn’s Lia Thomas, who became first transgender woman to win a national title ( the women’s 500-yard freestyle). She also placed fifth in the 200 freestyle, tying with Gaines.

“Today, we intend to personally tell the NCAA to stop discriminating against female athletes by handing them a petition that we have garnered nearly 10,000 signatures on in just a couple of days,” Gaines said, kicking off more than an hour of speeches that attracted a few onlookers and a handful of quiet counter-protesters.

The topic has divided the U.S. for the past several years, with critics saying transgender athletes have an advantage over cisgender women in competition. Eighteen states have passed laws banning transgender athletes from participating in female school sports; a federal judge earlier this month ruled West Virginia’s ban is constitutional and can remain in place.

The NCAA has permitted transgender athletes to compete since 2010.

The Transgender Student-Athlete Participation Policy was updated a year ago, taking a sport-by-sport approach that brings the NCAA in line with the U.S. and international Olympic committees.

Full implementation of the policy was scheduled to be phased in by August but the NCAA Board of Governors this week approved a recommendation to delay that through the 2023-24 academic year “to address operational considerations.”

NCAA leadership says the stated goal in policy making is “not if transgender athletes are included, but how.”

“We want to have an environment that is fair, welcoming and inclusive for all of (the athletes),” Ivy League executive director Robin Harris said at the convention during a session this week on the topic. Harris said the transgender athletes policy is no different from other eligibility requirements.

“They are playing by the rules,” NCAA director of inclusion Jean Merrill said during the session.

Schuyler Bailar, a transgender man who switched from the women’s swim team to the men’s during his time at Harvard, said he believes the NCAA is doing the best it can to be inclusive, fair and effective with its policies. The challenge is that the standards are not static.

“It’s just not that simple. I think they’re ever moving, ever evolving. And fairness is ever evolving, as well, the more we learn about bodies and biology and people and the more we understand diversity and equity and inclusion,” Bailar said at the convention session.

At the protest, Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Christiana Kiefer said the NCAA is violating Title IX, the landmark gender equity legislation enacted in 1972, and legal action against the NCAA could take several forms.

“So I think that could look like a federal lawsuit against the NCAA,” she said. “I think that could look like a Title IX complaint. And I think it could look like even universities starting to actually push back against the NCAA and saying, ’Hey, we have a legal obligation to protect fair athletic opportunities for female athletes and if we fail to do that, you’re kind of binding our hands and not allowing us to fulfill our legal obligations to the female athletes at our schools.’”

The NCAA has not yet taken a stand against states that have banned transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports. The NCAA has previously banned states from hosting its championship events because of the use of Confederate symbolism or for laws that it believe discriminated against LGBTQ people.

Bailar said it would be valuable to have the NCAA take a similar position on this issue.

“I also know that NCAA’s jurisdiction is in college athletics and not in children’s sports. And many of these laws are about children’s sports. So I understand the discrepancy there,” he said. “But I mean, if you’re asking me do I want more support for trans people? The answer is going to be: absolutely yes.”

Continue ReadingTransphobic protest at NCAA Headquarters in downtown Indianapolis

Erin Reed – Analysis of HB-1118 “Indiana Bill Would Hijack Conversion Therapy Laws To Ban Transition”

Erin Reed tracks and analyzes legislation affecting transgender people all over the country. She provided great analysis of HB-1118 at her regular column space “Erin In The Morning.” Click through the link below to read her entire column.

Indiana Bill Would Hijack Conversion Therapy Laws To Ban Transition

Indiana has been the site of several anti-trans bills in recent years. In 2022, they enacted a ban on transgender athletes from playing sports that match their gender identity by overcoming the governors veto. They attempted to pass a bill that would criminally ban gender transition for trans youth. Yesterday, they proposed one of their most inhumane bills yet. Indiana HB1118 would ban gender transition for trans youth by placing it in a new law banning physical conversion therapy. It defines gender transition, ridiculously, as a form of conversion therapy and says that anybody who obtains gender transition for trans youth should be investigated for child abuse. The bill then defines violations as a level 5 felony.

The new Indiana bill states that “a health care professional may not purposefully attempt to change, reinforce, or affirm a minors perception of the minor’s own sexual attraction or sexual behavior, or attempt to change, reinforce, or affirm a minor’s gender identity when that identity is inconsistent with the minors biological sex, by engaging in any of the following activities.” The bill then goes on to list several activities that are brutal and that anyone would agree should be banned: subjecting genitals to electric currents, wrapping the minors hands in heat coils, subjecting a minor to an ice bath. Alongside these forms of conversion therapy torture, it lists puberty blockers and hormone therapy.

This bill clearly has drawn from TERF (trans exclusionary radical feminist) ideology in its development – TERF orgs have claimed that gender transition is done to “trans away the gay”. Prominent TERF thought leader Helen Joyce claims, for instance, that the “affirmative care model IS conversion therapy.” This line of thought has also made its way into US court fights. James Cantor, an anti-trans “neuroscientist and sex researcher” who has appeared in several court fights as a witness in favor of anti-trans legislation, said in 2021 that “transition IS conversion therapy.” Now, this bill seeks to establish this thinking into law by banning all gender affirming care for trans youth.

Continue ReadingErin Reed – Analysis of HB-1118 “Indiana Bill Would Hijack Conversion Therapy Laws To Ban Transition”

Right Wing Newspapers

A list of right-wing ‘news’ sights that reprint news stories from a far-right extremist perspective. This list will be updated over time.

Daily Caller
Licenses their right-wing content to other ‘news’ papers.
Laurel Duggan – “Social Issues and Culture Reporter”

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact [expurgated].

BizPacReview –
Re-prints stories from the Daily Caller

The Federalist

Continue ReadingRight Wing Newspapers

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette covers 4 anti-trans house bills in 2023

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette covers the four anti-trans house bills targeting transgender healthcare in 2023. Some good analysis here about these bills.

General Assembly
Transgender health care targeted by new Indiana bills
Brett Stover | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Several bills filed by Republican lawmakers seek to ban doctors from providing gender-affirming care to minors.

The filings this week make Indiana one of at least a dozen states where legislators are seeking to limit transgender health care access.

One such proposal, House Bill 1220, is authored by Rep. Michelle Davis, R-Whiteland, and co-authored by three more Republicans, including Fort Wayne Rep. Chris Judy.

Early gender-affirming care is crucial for the health and well-being of transgender and nonbinary children and adolescents, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Some types of gender-affirming care are reversible, one government document states. Those include social affirmation – like using a person’s preferred pronouns and name – and puberty blockers, hormones that effectively pause puberty.

Hormone replacement therapy, which Health and Human Services says is used from early adolescence onward, is a partially reversible form of medical care.

The final category, gender-affirming surgery, is described as non-reversible and is typically used in adulthood. A Reuters report found that such surgeries are “uncommon in patients under age 18.”

Physicians and other medical practitioners would not be allowed to provide any medical nor surgical gender-affirming care under HB 1220. They would also not be allowed to refer a minor to another doctor for such care.

The bill would allow for civil penalties against medical professionals who violate the law.

Another measure, House Bill 1118, would impose harsher penalties.

Under HB 1118, filed by Rep. Lorissa Sweet, R-Wabash, health care professionals who perform gender-affirming surgeries on minors whose gender identity “is inconsistent with the minor’s biological sex” could face Level 5 felony charges. A Level 5 felony carries a sentencing range of 1 to 6 years.

It also would open medical professionals who provide other forms of gender-affirming care including puberty blocker and hormone therapy to misdemeanor charges.

Rep. Ryan Lauer, R-Columbus, has also filed two bills that would affect transgender minors.

One, House Bill 1231, has similar provisions to HB 1220 and would allow for civil penalties for doctors who provide medical or surgical gender-affirming care. It would also bar health insurance companies from covering those types of procedures.

The second, House Bill 1232, would prohibit the Department of Child Services from substantiating a report of child abuse or neglect solely because the parent or guardian insists on “referring to and raising the child consistent with the child’s biological sex” or because they won’t allow the child to receive gender-affirming surgery, medical care, mental health care or counseling.

The bill would also prohibit the Department of Child Services from taking custody of a child away from their guardian solely for those reasons.

Those bills have drawn the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, whose advocacy director said the General Assembly is on track to introduce a record number of bills “attacking the rights of LGBTQ Hoosiers.”

“A number of these bills represent a coordinated, hate-driven campaign to push trans people out of public life,” ACLU of Indiana Advocacy Director Katie Blair said in a statement. “We will use every tool at our disposal to defend LGBTQ rights in Indiana. LGBTQ people belong everywhere, including in our state, and we will not stand for these attack bills.”

G. David Caudill, founder of the nonprofit Equality Indiana, said that while he’s disappointed in the legislation, it’s not unexpected based on trends across the country and other recent bills in Indiana.

“It’’s disappointing that the supermajority, and the extremists within the supermajority, are trying to score political points by attacking the LGBTQ community,” Caudill said.

He encouraged committee chairs to let the bills die in committee.

Caudill also said the bill would hurt the state’s economic environment. Indiana wants to be welcoming, he said, but bills like these “give us a black eye” economically.

This isn’t the first time the Indiana legislature has turned its eye toward transgender children.

Last year, Davis authored House Bill 1041, which banned transgender girls from participating in girls school sports.

The Indiana legislature overrode a veto from Gov. Eric Holcomb, and the ban went into effect July 1. However, the ACLU challenged HB 1041 in court on behalf of a 10-year-old transgender girl, and a federal judge ruled in her favor last July.

Continue ReadingFort Wayne Journal Gazette covers 4 anti-trans house bills in 2023

House Bill 1232 – Denying child protective services to abused transgender children

UPDATE 02/13/2023 – A similar bill House Bill 1407, passed through the House and was referred to the Senate.

House Bill 1232 would deny Child Protective Services the means to remove psychologically or physically abused transgender children from their parents homes.

House Bill 1232
Introduced House Bill (H)
Authored by Rep. Ryan Lauer.
Co-Authored by Rep. Michelle Davis.

Child removal and gender identity. Provides that the department of child services may not classify a report of child abuse or neglect as substantiated, and a child may not be removed from the child’s parent, guardian, or custodian, solely on the basis of the parent, guardian, or custodian: (1) referring to and raising the child consistent with the child’s biological sex; or (2) declining to consent to the child receiving: (A) specified medication; (B) a medical procedure the purpose of which is to alter the apparent gender or sex of the child or affirm the child’s perception of the child’s gender or sex in a manner inconsistent with the child’s biological sex; or (C) counseling or other mental health services the purpose of which is to affirm the child’s perception of the child’s gender or sex if the child’s perception is inconsistent with the child’s biological sex.

Actions for House Bill 1232
H0 1/12/2023 Representative Davis M added as coauthor
H 01/10/2023 First reading: referred to Committee on Family, Children and Human Affairs
H 01/10/2023 Authored by Representative Lauer

Link to PDF File of Introduced Bill: HB1232.01.INTR

News References:

Source: Herald Bulletin
Feb 9, 2023
GOP advances ‘parental rights’ bill targeting DCS policies for transgender children

Source: The Herald Bulletin Editorial Board
Feb 9, 2023
Editorial: Legislature resumes attack on LGBTQ kids

Continue ReadingHouse Bill 1232 – Denying child protective services to abused transgender children

House Bill 1231 – Civil Penalties for Gender Affirming Care

HB-1231 allows civil penalties for doctors who provide gender affirming medical care to young people, and bars health insurance companies from covering gender affirming care for young people (generally, insurance companies don’t cover currently cover surgeries for minors).

House Bill 1231
Introduced House Bill (H)
Authored by Rep. Ryan Lauer.
Co-Authored by Rep. J.D. Prescott, Rep. David Abbott.

Gender transition procedures for minors. Prohibits specified health care professionals from providing gender transition procedures to a minor that are intended to alter the gender of the minor or delay puberty. Provides for certain medical exceptions. Prohibits public funds, Medicaid, or a health carrier from providing reimbursement or coverage for gender transition procedures to a minor. Creates a civil cause of action. Makes conforming changes.

Actions for House Bill 1231
H 01/19/2023 Representatives Prescott and Abbott D added as coauthors
H 01/10/2023 First reading: referred to Committee on Public Health
H 01/10/2023 Authored by Representative Lauer

Link to PDF File of Introduced Bill: HB1231.01.INTR

Continue ReadingHouse Bill 1231 – Civil Penalties for Gender Affirming Care

House Bill 1220 – Prohibiting Gender Affirming Care

Authored by Rep. Michelle Davis, HB-1220 Prohibits gender affirming care for young people under the age of 18. No attempt at differentiation between care for precocious puberty from transgender healthcare seems to be written into this bill. It’s possible children with precocious puberty could get swept up in this care denial. Considering kids with PP are the bulk of patients receiving puberty blockers, it will be interesting how they attempt to force clinical disclosure of the reason why blockers are prescribed.

House Bill 1220
Introduced House Bill (H)
Authored by Rep. Michelle Davis.
Co-Authored by Rep. Dale DeVon, Rep. Jake Teshka, Rep. Chris Judy.

Gender transition procedures for minors. Prohibits 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. Provides for certain medical exceptions. Establishes civil enforcement actions.

Actions for House Bill 1220
H 01/10/2023 First reading: referred to Committee on Public Health
H 01/10/2023 Coauthored by Representatives DeVon, Teshka, Judy
H 01/10/2023 Authored by Representative Davis

Link to PDF of introduce version of the bill: HB1220.01.INTR

Continue ReadingHouse Bill 1220 – Prohibiting Gender Affirming Care

House Bill 1118 – Criminalizing Gender Affirming Care

Authored by Rep. Lorissa Sweet, HB-1118 Defines gender affirming care as a form of conversion therapy and defines criminal penalties for parents and medical providers who affirm the self-identify of their transgender children.

Related House bills: House Bill 1220, House Bill 1231, House Bill 1589.
Related Senate bill: Senate Bill 480, which is moving in the Senate.

Introduced House Bill (H)
Authored by Rep. Lorissa Sweet.
Co-Authored by Rep. Zach Payne.

Prohibited services relating to care of minors. Prohibits specified health care professionals from: (1) performing, or causing to be performed, certain medical procedures on a minor; or (2) subjecting a minor to certain activities that purposely attempt to change, reinforce, or affirm a minor’s perception of the minor’s own sexual attraction or sexual behavior, or attempt to change, reinforce, or affirm a minor’s gender identity when the identity is inconsistent with the minor’s biological sex.

H 01/12/2023 Representative Payne Z added as coauthor
H 01/10/2023 First reading: referred to Committee on Public Health
H 01/10/2023 Authored by Representative Sweet

Explanation of State Expenditures:

The bill would result in an increase in workload for the Department of Child Services (DCS) to investigate reports of health care professionals providing prohibited services under the bill to minors and refer cases to law enforcement. The Professional Licensing Agency (PLA) and applicable licensing boards may also experience additional workload to take disciplinary action against practitioners who are alleged to have violated the requirements of the bill. If health care professionals are convicted on felony charges under the bill, the Department of Correction (DOC) would incur additional costs for incarceration. Ultimately, total additional expenditures resulting from the bill will depend on legislative, administrative, and judicial decisions.

Additional Information:
A health care professional who violates provisions of the bill that prohibit certain medical procedures would commit a Level 5 felony. A Level 5 felony is punishable by a prison term ranging from 1 to 6 years, with an advisory sentence of 3 years. The sentence depends on mitigating and aggravating circumstances. The average expenditure to house an adult offender was $27,185 annually, or $74.43 daily, in FY 2022. (This does not include the cost of new construction.) If offenders can be housed in existing facilities with no additional staff, the marginal cost for medical care, food, and clothing is approximately $4,456 annually, or $12.21 daily, per prisoner. These marginal cost estimates are based on contractual agreements with food and medical vendors and projections based on prior years for clothing and hygiene. The estimated average cost of housing a juvenile in a state juvenile facility was $130,547, or $357.42 daily, in FY 2022. The marginal cost for juvenile facilities was $5,125 annually or $14.04 daily

The entire Level 5 sentence may be suspended and the person placed on either probation or community corrections. If no time is suspended, the offender can receive good time credit of 25% and educational credit time. After adjusting for credit time, the offender can be released from prison and placed on parole.

Explanation of State Revenues:
If civil actions are brought against health care professionals, the state General Fund and Common School Fund could collect additional revenue from court fees and criminal fines. Additionally, the PLA and applicable licensing boards could impose fines against violating practitioners, which would be deposited in the state General Fund. However, Licensing boards could also take action against a practitioner’s license, resulting in reduced state General Fund revenue from license fees. The bill’s overall impact on revenue will ultimately depend on administrative and judicial decisions.

Additional Information:

Penalty Provision:
If additional court cases occur and fines are collected, revenue to both the Common School Fund and the state General Fund would increase. The maximum fine for a Level 5 felony is $10,000. Criminal fines are deposited in the Common School Fund. The maximum fine for a Class A misdemeanor is $5,000.

If the case is filed in a circuit or superior court, 70% of the $120 criminal costs fee that is assessed and collected when a guilty verdict is entered would be deposited in the state General Fund. In addition, some or all of the following revenue is deposited into the state General Fund: automated record keeping fee ($20), judicial salaries fee ($20), public defense administration fee ($5), court administration fee ($5), judicial insurance adjustment fee ($1), and the DNA sample processing fee ($3).

Disciplinary Action:
The PLA may impose fines of up to $1,000 against practitioners who violate laws governing their profession. Revenue from fines is deposited in the state General Fund. Biennial license fees for the practitioners named in the bill range from $50 to $200 and are deposited in the state General Fund.

Explanation of Local Expenditures:
If more defendants are detained in county jails prior to their court hearings or receive jail sentences, local expenditures for jail operations may increase. However, any additional expenditures would likely be minimal. [A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail.] County-owned hospitals could experience additional legal costs if they become involved in litigation against health care professionals practicing at their facilities.

The average cost per day is approximately $64.53 based on the per diem payments reported by U.S. Marshals to house federal prisoners in 11 county jails across Indiana during CY 2021.

Explanation of Local Revenues:
If additional court actions occur and a guilty verdict is entered, local governments would receive revenue from the following sources. The county general fund would receive 27% of the $120 criminal costs fee that is assessed in a court of record. Cities and towns maintaining a law enforcement agency that prosecutes at least 50% of its ordinance violations in a court of record may receive 3% of the criminal costs fee. Persons found guilty of a felony or misdemeanor are also required to pay the document storage fee ($5), which is deposited into the clerk record perpetuation fund, and the jury fee ($2) and the law enforcement continuing education fee ($4), which are both deposited in the county user fee fund.

State Agencies Affected:
Department of Child Services; Professional Licensing Agency; Department of Correction.

Local Agencies Affected:
Trial courts; local law enforcement agencies.

Information Sources:
Margaux Auxier, Department of Correction; IC 35-50-2-7; IC 35-50-3-2; Legislative Services Agency, Indiana Handbook of Taxes, Revenues, and Appropriations, FY 2022; U.S. Department of Justice Marshals Service.

Fiscal Analyst:
Jasmine Noel, 317-234-1360.

Link to introduced version of the bill: HB1118.01.INTR

Continue ReadingHouse Bill 1118 – Criminalizing Gender Affirming Care

House Bill 1130: Criminalizing LBGT Materials in School and Public Libraries

House Bill 1130 would allow schools and public libraries to be criminally prosecuted for allowing minors to have access to LGBTQ-positive library materials, or to have Drag Queen Story Hours (“a performance harmful to minors.”) Adds colleges and universities to list eligible for criminal prosecution.

House Bill 1130
Introduced House Bill (H)
Authored by Rep. Becky Cash.
Co-Authored by Rep. Julie McGuire.

Material harmful to minors. Removes schools and certain public libraries from the list of entities eligible for a specified defense to criminal prosecutions alleging: (1) the dissemination of material harmful to minors; or (2) a performance harmful to minors. Adds colleges and universities to the list of entities eligible for a specified defense to criminal prosecutions alleging: (1) the dissemination of material harmful to minors; or (2) a performance harmful to minors.

Actions for House Bill 1130

H 01/23/2023 Representative McGuire J added as coauthor
H 01/10/2023 First reading: referred to Committee on Education
H 01/10/2023 Authored by Representative Cash

Link to downloadable PDF of Introduced bill HB1130.01.INTR

Continue ReadingHouse Bill 1130: Criminalizing LBGT Materials in School and Public Libraries

Kentucky legislature files House Bill 30 invading privacy of transgender students

Published: 5:14 PM EST January 9, 2023

House Bill 30 filed with the Kentucky State Legislature would invade student privacy by forcing students to use bathroom facilities of the gender they were assigned at birth.

Kentucky House Bill 30
Last Action 01/03/23: to Committee on Committees (H)
Title AN ACT relating to public school facilities and declaring an emergency.
Bill Documents Introduced
Bill Request Number 384
Sponsors B. Wesley, J. Hodgson

Summary of Original Version
Create new sections of KRS Chapter 158 to define terms; establish legislative findings; ensure that student privacy exists in school restrooms, locker rooms, and shower rooms; require students born male to use only those facilities designated to be used by males and students born female to use only those facilities designated to be used by females; require schools to provide the best available accommodation to students who assert that their gender is different from their biological sex; identify consequences for using facilities designated for the opposite biological sex; EMERGENCY.

Index Headings of Original Version
Courts, Circuit – Student privacy rights, claims filed concerning
Education, Elementary and Secondary – Student privacy, ensuring
Effective Dates, Emergency – Student privacy, ensuring
Teachers – Privacy of students, ensuring
Children and Minors – Student privacy
Civil Actions – Student privacy

Continue ReadingKentucky legislature files House Bill 30 invading privacy of transgender students

USAU Selected Indiana to Host 2023 D-III College Champs Before Backing Out Due to Anti-Transgender Laws


The USAU EDI committee determined that Indiana should not host one of its major tournaments.

USA Ultimate initially planned to host the 2023 Division III College Championships in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but changed course after the organization’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committee determined that USAU should not host it there due to Indiana laws targeting transgender people, Ultiworld has learned.

After a months-long bid process, USAU told Fort Wayne Ultimate (FWU) in early November that their proposal had been selected, said FWU President Jeff Ratajczak. He signed the attached letter of intent and waited for the official announcement from USAU. But in early December, he got word that there may be a problem: the USAU EDI committee was unsure about hosting a big national event in Indiana, due to the state’s new laws barring transgender women and girls from competing on public schools’ women’s sports teams.

FWU, the city of Fort Wayne, the tourist bureau, and other area entities supporting the bid sent in letters to USAU stating their commitment to inclusion, but on December 16th, USAU staff emailed Ratajczak with the news that USAU would not be moving forward with Fort Wayne. “We put together a bid that was perfect until it wasn’t all of a sudden,” said Ratajczak.

“As the decision was being considered to award the bid to Fort Wayne, we performed a final audit of anti-trans laws in Indiana and discovered that one was in effect, which led to us evaluating alternatives in the general area,” said USAU Director of Communications Andy lee. “This included Columbus, which had previously bid on – and was awarded – the D-III championships in 2020 before the pandemic cancelled it.”

The TD of the 2023 D-III College Championships, Rodger Oakes, said that USAU reached out to him in early December asking if he would run the event in Columbus. They had previously discussed it over the summer when it looked like Cincinnati was going to be the host for the D-I Championships. He agreed.

Lee said that USAU does not have a policy in place that strictly bars the organization from hosting its biggest national events in states with anti-trans laws. “It is one of many internal criteria we consider during our process of evaluating bids for national championship events,” he said. “As a [national governing body], we look at laws specific to the sphere in which we operate – i.e. sports inclusion/participation. Because these laws are inconsistent with our Gender Inclusion Policy, they can have a negative impact on the bid.” The USAU email to Ratajczak said that the organization won’t be hosting any of its six national championship events in states with anti-trans laws.

Anti-transgender laws, often targeting trans girls on school-based teams, have proliferated this year around the country. 19 states have passed laws limiting sports participation for trans girls in girls divisions.

There is precedent for USAU’s policy: in 2016, the NCAA pulled seven championship games out of North Carolina due to the state passing a “bathroom bill” law that required people to use bathrooms according to their gender at birth. The USAU College Championships were held in North Carolina that year. Amidst some calls for the governing body to change the location of the tournaments, USAU announced a number of efforts to protest the laws, including the use of rainbow-printed discs at the events. The controversial law fully lapsed in 2020.

The NCAA said last year that it will only host championship events in places that are “free of discrimination” in a show of support for transgender athletes, but many of its 2023 championships are set to be held in states that have passed anti-trans laws.

Ratajczak understands the challenge USAU faces — “It’s a tough spot for an organization like that to make a decision, especially when they’re in the social justice arena,” he said — but is frustrated by the decision.

“The thing that was super irritating is that they took it away from us to give it to Ohio, which has two bills that are likely going to pass the first quarter of next year that are anti-trans,” he said.

The Ohio house and senate have both already passed bills requiring public school students to play in the division of their gender at birth, but they failed during reconciliation votes earlier this month. The Ohio senate leader has already committed to reintroducing the bill in early 2023. Ohio republican governor Mike DeWine has publicly opposed the bills but has not committed to vetoing a measure that gets passed. Both Indiana and Utah’s governors vetoed similar legislation but had their vetoes overridden by the legislature.

Lee said that if Ohio were to pass anti-trans laws next year that USAU would not relocate the College Championships. “Instead, we will work to find other impactful ways to support the trans community locally during the event,” he said.

USAU told Ratajczak that Fort Wayne should continue bidding on regional events. The organization hosted Great Lakes College Regionals in 2022.

Earlier this week, the 2023 D-III College Championships were publicly announced to be held in Columbus, OH, from May 20-22.


Continue ReadingUSAU Selected Indiana to Host 2023 D-III College Champs Before Backing Out Due to Anti-Transgender Laws

Indiana lawmakers to consider ‘don’t say gay’ legislation in 2023

Of course they are.

From the Indianapolis Star:

Indiana lawmakers to consider ‘don’t say gay’ legislation in 2023
Arika Herron
Indianapolis Star

A controversial proposal to restrict discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools may be heading to Indiana.

During a legislative conference Friday, an Indiana lawmaker said that a version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill was being drafted for the upcoming legislative session.

Rep. Bob Behning, an Indianapolis Republican and chair of the House education committee, was speaking during a panel discussion with other legislative leaders previewing some of the educational issues that will be addressed by the legislature when the Indiana General Assembly convenes in January.

More:Legislative leaders brace for mild recession ahead of budget-writing session

He said one of his colleagues would file legislation “similar to what Florida did in regards to sexual orientation.”

Behning would not share the name of the lawmaker carrying the bill. He said he did not yet know if the bill would come to his committee or if he would support such a measure.

It’s unclear how much support “Don’t Say Gay” style legislation would have among legislative leaders, who struggled to coalesce their members around a position on similar issues last session and have seemed interested in turning attention toward workforce and economy issues after the past summer’s special session to pass a near-total ban on abortion in the state.

He did say he supports the general principle of parental rights in education, a concept used to drive other controversial measures last legislative session such as bills to restrict what teachers could say in the classroom about race, politics and history.

“Let’s teach kids the basics and not try to get beyond that in terms of what are parental responsibilities versus what are responsibilities of the school,” he said.

The Florida bill, formally titled Parental Rights in Education, was signed into law last spring. The measure bans classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

It also prohibits such teaching in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students, which potentially broadens the ban on discussions to all grade levels.

Parents can sue school districts over alleged violations.

The bill sparked national outrage and concerns about the impact it would have on LGBTQ students for whom schools may be the only place they can speak openly on LGBTQ issues.

A spate of other states has already followed in Florida’s footsteps. In 18 other states, lawmakers attempted similar legislation last year.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said on Friday afternoon that the bill was not on his agenda.

Bill is a ‘gut punch,’ LGBTQ advocates say

LGBTQ advocates in Indiana said they were bracing for the bill to be introduced in the Hoosier state but it was still a “gut punch,” said Chris Paulsen, chief executive officer of the Indiana Youth Group. IYG serves LGBTQ+ youth, providing a safe space, supporting self-empowerment and advocating for affirming communities.

“The damage even having the bill introduced will cause to young people is immeasurable,” Paulsen said. “We will see youth die by suicide because of this. I think it’s that dire and I’m sad that lawmakers don’t realize their actions have really bad consequences, even if the bill doesn’t pass.”

Paulsen said that LGBTQ+ youth often struggle with their mental health, particularly when they don’t have a safe and affirming space. One in four young people are kicked out of their homes when they come out to their families, she said and two of three still in their homes after coming out feel unsafe. Last year, the group served 440 LGBTQ+ youth that were in need of food, housing or clothing assistance. School may be the only safe and affirming place for some LGBTQ+ young people.

Culture wars here to stay at Statehouse

The mention of a “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Indiana is raising concerns that the legislative session will be dominated by culture war issues for the second year in a row. Bills targeting discussions of race and history in classrooms, sexually-explicit content in school library books and transgender students participating in school sports drew protests and prompted hours-long hearings dominated largely by those opposed to the measures.

Sen. J.D. Ford, an Indianapolis Democrat and the Statehouse’s first openly gay member, said the Florida bill was divisive and urged lawmakers to keep culture war issues at bay.

“We have so many more priorities in our state to deal with,” he said, “I don’t think that rises to the level of importance.”

Behning said he did not know legislation similar to the “anti-CRT” or “divisive concept” bills that failed last year would come back but does expect a bill banning books with sexually-explicit content from school libraries to come back.

Continue ReadingIndiana lawmakers to consider ‘don’t say gay’ legislation in 2023

Bloomington Drag Queen Story Hour Recieves Violent Threats

Shared From: VinePair: “The Culture War Has Come to Craft Brewing. Time to Pick a Side.”


The threats started pouring into Switchyard Brewing Company last Friday in earnest. People whipped into a frenzy by local and national right-wing agitators on social media bombarded the Bloomington, Ind., craft brewery via email and phone. Accusations flew foul and furious.

“You name it, we heard it,” Kurtis Cummings, the brewery’s founder, tells Hop Take in a phone interview. “People stating that there would be huge crowds protesting this event, that we’re indoctrinating children, that we’re pedo[file]s, that we’d better make [admission] 18 and over or bad things are gonna happen.”

“Shut it down,” they told Cummings about the family-friendly drag brunch the brewery had scheduled for this past Sunday, its fourth such event. “Or else.”

One of the leading lies enraging the nation’s red-assed bullies these days is the manufactured moral panic — spoon-fed to them by Tucker Carlson, the Facebook algorithm, and the guy who owns Twitter — that drag queens are sexual predators engaged in a nefarious, wide-ranging plot to “groom” children for illegal pedophilic relationships. There’s no evidence for this, of course; it’s just a convenient, homo- and transphobic myth with which conservative kingmakers focus the base’s Eye of Sauron upon challengers to the status quo. False though it is, it’s a powerful call to arms in the deliberately relentless right-wing war on the LGBTQ+ community in general and trans people in particular. As such, reactionaries radicalized online march on venues both public and private that have the temerity to host drag brunches, advertise their allyship on social media, or even simply offer gender-neutral bathrooms.

Craft breweries, which have often marketed themselves as progressive, inclusive, community-oriented oases, tend to do all these things. Unfortunately, there may come a day when the culture war arrives at their taproom doors, like it did at Switchyard’s this past weekend. Now, not then, it’s time to decide what their values are and how to live them — and to prepare accordingly.

“I’m a person who prepares for the worst and hopes for the best in pretty much everything in my life,” says Marley Rall, the founder of the Brewmaster’s Taproom in Renton, Wash. “But never once [did I ask myself] what’s your plan for when people decide that they want to shoot at your business because you have a human being reading books to children?” Last week, right around the time Cummings & co. started getting inbound pressure in Bloomington, someone appears to have done just that, firing a round through the front window of the kid- and dog-friendly craft beer bar Rall and her team have operated in the Seattle suburb since 2016. The attack followed rising online furor among local right-wing groups about the drag queen story hour she’d scheduled for this past Saturday.

Brewmaster’s Taproom has hosted similar events for the past year and a half, eliciting just a handful of angry phone calls or emails, says the founder, speaking to Hop Take by phone. But in a sign of the times, this past weekend’s event drew “hundreds of phone calls, tons of emails,” and a bullet.

The stakes could not be higher, nor the urgency. Just last month, a shooter killed five people at Colorado Springs’ Club Q in an attack that appears to be motivated by the sexual orientation of the LGBTQ+ venue’s patrons and staff. (Incidentally, it was the co-founder of a local craft brewery, Atrevida Beer Company, who heroically helped take down the attacker.) It was a vile act of violence, with echoes of the hateful 2016 slaughter at Orlando gay club Pulse that claimed 49 lives. But given the right-wing punditry’s ongoing project to paint LGBTQ+ people as perverted political enemies of heteronormative American life, it’s unsurprising. The beer industry must take note. If right-wing activists are willing to call in bomb threats on a children’s hospital, harass parents at public libraries, and murder members of the queer community and their allies in private venues, they’ll be willing to do the same to a craft brewery — or worse.

Thankfully, at both Switchyard and Brewmaster’s Taproom, the crowds of community supporters who took up positions outside the businesses seemed to deter counter-protesters on the day of the events. “I think a lot of people drove by, saw how much support we had, and chose not to stop,” says Rall. In Bloomington, home to Indiana University and holder of a perfect LGBTQ+ rating from the Human Rights Commission, Cummings saw a few “‘Proud Boys’ or protesters, complainants, whatever you want to call them,” sitting in their vehicles outside the brewery, but that was about it. He’s relieved that the day wound up being “anti-climatic.” In Renton, Rall has a plate-glass window with a bullet hole to replace, which will cost her a paycheck this month. “It’s part of choosing to be a business owner, those are decisions you shouldn’t go into lightly,” she says.

Having stood firm with their communities in the face of their respective reactionary backlashes, I asked Cummings and Rall for their advice to peers across the craft brewing industry who may find themselves on the receiving end of attacks from the United States’ increasingly unhinged right wing in the future. Both emphasized that credible, specific, localized threats to staff and performer safety had to be handled with much more caution than the generalized vitriol flowing in from around the country. (As I’ve argued before, craft brewing workers who feel like their bosses aren’t prioritizing their well-being in decision making regarding drag events or anything else should unionize with the quickness.)

They also warned that right-wingers would try to to frame breweries’ decisions to host queer-friendly events as politically and financially self-serving. Conservative operatives tried to paint Switchyard’s event as a launchpad for Cummings’ “Democrat” political ambitions (he ran and lost a challenger campaign for state representative this year against an otherwise unopposed 12-year Republican incumbent, and characterizes himself as a political centrist), and alleged the shot fired into Brewmaster’s Taproom was a false-flag event orchestrated by Rall to drum up business (she denies this, noting the sales revenue from the event fell short of the cost of the window.) The concept of monetizing victimhood is a popular conservative fiction — “Soros hires protesters” et al. — and Republican foes in the craft beer business can expect similar attacks.

As far as tactical advice, Cummings says, “the No. 1 thing to do is develop a plan” for emergencies that might arise from that decision, from nasty phone calls to threats of immediate physical harm. Distribute it carefully, the former first responder tells Hop Take. “Share it with local [law enforcement] agencies, share it with the staff, share it with performers. Do not share it on the internet, because you don’t want the bad guys to know what you’re preparing.” Rall tells Hop Take that building community relationships — something many craft breweries already do in the course of normal business as both a moral and economic imperative — is vital. Being raised Jewish in Hawaii, a state where less than 1 percent of the population identifies as Jewish, taught her the importance of “supporting others, because everybody at some point in life is going to be in need of help and support.” “Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, and your community will see that and be there for you,” she adds. Rall considers drag events a non-negotiable part of operating a local business, but cautions against craft breweries doing them as one-offs. “This is not just a flash-in-the-pan situation.”

Cummings agrees. “You need to take a deep dive into what your business’s guiding principles are, and what you stand for.” If being a “change agent” is part of a brewery’s mission, go forth — but know that change is hard, and its opponents violent.

This is an unfortunate but clarifying crucible for the industry. The progressive values so many craft breweries profess (and that most, I think, genuinely believe!) have never been this crosswise with such a volatile, violent sociopolitical force as the contemporary American right. Frankly, the industry has not always lived up to those values: Even after 2021’s “reckoning,” the industry is still mostly white and male, with transgressors being quietly welcomed back into the fold after making minimal amends. But what’s past is prologue, as they say. Now that the culture war rages right outside the taproom door, brewery owners, workers, and customers face a serious choice. Should they tone down their programming and support in the face of hatred and ignorance? Or make the emergency plans, invest the extra money on security, spend a few hours on a weekend to show up in force and safeguard their local queer communities and themselves?

Craft breweries of all sizes, in all markets, have long held themselves out as beacons of progress and bastions of tolerance. Now they must decide whether those things are truly worth fighting for — and if so, they must make clear-eyed preparations for the battle before it arrives.

Continue ReadingBloomington Drag Queen Story Hour Recieves Violent Threats

Zionsville school board candidate says ‘All Nazis weren’t ‘bad” in social media post

From the IndyStar:

Claire Rafford
Indianapolis Star

Corrections & clarifications: A previous version of this article misstated the title of Professor Günther Jikeli. He is the associate director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism at Indiana University Bloomington.

On Monday evening, Dr. Matt Keefer, a candidate running for a seat on the Zionsville Community Schools Board of Trustees, posted a now-deleted comment to Facebook that said, “All Nazis weren’t ‘bad,’ as you specify,'” while going on to compare those who joined the Nazi Party to those who got vaccinated, wore masks and practiced social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The comments, including most of the replies, have since been deleted from Keefer’s campaign Facebook page. The page has also limited who can comment on posts.

“They did horrible things,” Keefer continued. “They were in a group frenzy in both cases you site (sic). Who is to say if we were both there in the same place and same time, that we wouldn’t have done the same thing.”

School board races this election season have gained a lot of attention across the nation.

The Zionsville Community Schools Board of Trustees has five seats, three of which are up for election, including one at-large position. Keefer is running against Sarah Esterline Sampson and Christy Wessel-Powell for that seat.

In at-large races, candidates can run regardless of where they live in the district, and everyone in the district can vote for the seat.

Keefer, who isn’t currently a school board member, started attending school board meetings last year to express his opinions against masking in schools.

He wrote the Monday comment on a post from Sept. 21 in response to a comment from a profile using the username Mike Harris, with whom Keefer was in a discussion about how to improve the schools in Zionsville’s district.

Harris’ profile says that they are not using their real name but that they are a “lifelong resident of Boone County.” IndyStar reached out to the Mike Harris profile for more information, but they did not immediately respond.

The Harris username asked Keefer for clarification on what would be considered “indoctrination” for teachers in the Zionsville Community Schools district, including teaching students that all Nazis are bad.

In response to Keefer’s comment, the Harris profile said, “You won’t even say all Nazis are bad? What the living hell is wrong with you? Sorry, you Nazi sympathizer, you lost my vote.”

‘Nobody was forced’ to join the Nazi Party
Keefer told IndyStar on Wednesday that he was “not a fan of Nazis.” The leaders of the Nazi Party were “definitely bad people, but that doesn’t mean the common folk that were required to join the party were all evil,” he said.

“When they say all Nazis were evil, they’re talking about anybody in Germany during that time, all of them were evil people,” he said. “My statement was … the entire population of Germany was not evil Nazis even though they joined the Nazi Party.”

Professor Günther Jikeli, associate director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism at Indiana University Bloomington, said that it is not true that people were required to join the Nazi Party. Some joined because they believed in Nazi ideology, some joined because they thought it would be better for their careers, Jikeli said, but no one was compelled to join the party.

“Nobody was forced,” Jikeli said. “Nobody would go to prison if they would not turn up to the Nazi Party.”

An estimated 6 million Jewish people and millions of other people were killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website, under a section of Frequently Asked Questions, said that “the German people were not brainwashed, nor were any of the Nazis’ collaborators.”

“Millions of ordinary people witnessed the crimes of the Holocaust — in the countryside and city squares, in stores and schools, in homes and workplaces,” the website said. “The Holocaust happened because of millions of individual choices.”

The museum’s information said “there was a great deal of pressure to conform,” and that hateful, antisemitic Nazi propaganda was spread and taught in schools.

“The government arrested political opponents or members of the press who criticized Hitler or the Nazi Party,” the FAQ said. “They were put in jails and concentration camps. Few people were brave enough to publicly speak out or to help Jews, especially when they could be arrested or killed for doing so.”

Comparisons should not be made to Nazism, experts say
Keefer, an anesthesiologist, went on to pose a comparison between people in the Nazi Party and people he perceived as being militantly in favor of strict COVID-19 restrictions.

“It’s judging people in the past by today’s standards.” Keefer continued in the same comment. “In 10 years, we may look at covid the same way. The people that hated the unvaxxed and hoped they died, the people that lost their jobs because they wouldn’t get vaccinated, the people who thought everyone should stay 6 feet apart, wear masks, and save some unknown 95 year old from dying by staying locked in their home.

“History should be taught, but remember the old saying. History is written by the victors.”

Keefer’s comments drew ire from other commenters, including Harris, on the post and online.

“The holocaust was GENOCIDE of a group of people simply based on the fact they were Jewish,” username Madalyn Stancik commented. “People having to get vaccinated for work is in no universe the same thing.”

Jikeli cautioned against comparing anything to the events of the Holocaust, and the atrocities perpetuated by the Nazis.

“There are few things that you can really compare to what happened and what Nazism was responsible for,” he said.

Keefer said, “there are similarities but I wouldn’t say it’s even close to exactly the same thing” when asked if he was trying to draw a comparison between Nazis and those who wore masks, got vaccinated and followed government recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The comparison I was trying to make is all those things that I said in the statement you read happened,” he said. “I saw people wishing ill health or no medical care for people that wouldn’t get vaccinated.”

The Holocaust Museum condemns comparing modern events to Nazism: “Comparing contemporary situations to Nazism is not only offensive to its victims, but it is also inaccurate and misrepresents both Holocaust history and the present. The Holocaust should be remembered, studied, and understood so that we can learn its lessons; it should not be exploited for opportunistic purposes.”

When asked how he would respond to a Jewish person seeing his comment regarding Nazis, Keefer said, “the Holocaust is one of the worst things in the history of the world.”

“I support Jewish people, especially those that had ancestors that had to go through that,” he said. “I am not any such person that denies reported history.”

Jikeli said that “there is a general lack of understanding about Nazism.”

“So many people think that only Hitler and a few crazy people were responsible for the atrocities in the name of Nazism,” he said. “But it’s not true. It was a mass movement and many people were implicated. That doesn’t mean that every party member did some action beyond being a party member, thereby supporting the party.”

Jikeli added that the Nazis were not shy about spreading their hateful and antisemitic beliefs. Even at the time, it was clear what the Nazi Party stood for, he said.

“They were clearly accusing Jews of all crimes, taking measures against them,” he said.

Debbie Ungar, who currently holds the at-large seat on the Zionsville Community Schools Board but is not running for re-election, mentioned Keefer’s comments in a Facebook post urging people to vote.

“Today one of these candidates actually posted that ‘All Nazis weren’t ‘bad,”” she said. “The level of educational success and quality teaching that we currently enjoy is not guaranteed and good teachers have many other opportunities.”

More education needed
Amber Maze, Holocaust and human rights associate for the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, said that though Indiana has a Holocaust education mandate, it’s not enough.

“It’s because of this lack of understanding, lack of awareness of what the Holocaust was about, what role ordinary German citizens played, what role Nazis played, that you get end up getting comments like this,” Maze said.

Another commenter, under username Brad Sullivan, wrote that on a visit to the concentration camp Dachau, they did not come away with the opinion that all Nazis weren’t bad.

“I came away with an awareness of what backward thinking, misunderstanding of science and authoritarian attitudes can ultimately bring to a society,” they wrote.

Keefer’s father served in World War II and fought on D-Day, which Keefer said impacted his perspective on history.

“He saw more than you did on your visit,” he said in a Facebook comment responding to Sullivan. “He didn’t hate all Nazis. There were certainly evil Nazis. There were also good people that had to be Nazis (or they would have been killed). Grouping all people as you are doing is a slippery slope. Have you ever heard the term Mass Formation Psychosis? Look it up and learn about it.”

“Mass formation psychosis” is a term that gained popularity when Dr. Robert Malone used it in an interview on “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, according to reporting from the Associated Press.

Malone used this term to cast doubt on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines and claimed that the so-called mass psychosis resulted in a “third of the population basically being hypnotized” into trusting the mainstream media and Dr. Anthony Fauci. He then went on to explain that the concept also explained the environment in Nazi Germany, the AP reported.

However, psychology experts told the Associated Press the term is not used in professional academic circles and is similar to other concepts like “mob mentality” that have been widely discredited by decades of research on group behavior. It does not appear in the American Psychological Association’s Dictionary of Psychology.


Reference link:

Continue ReadingZionsville school board candidate says ‘All Nazis weren’t ‘bad” in social media post

Sponsor’s threat to drop Pendleton Pride forces removal of drag queens from story hour

Rory Appleton & Rachel Fradette, Indianapolis Star

An Anderson nonprofit threatened to pull its support from this weekend’s Pendleton Pride celebration unless an event featuring drag queens reading to children was removed, forcing organizers to rearrange the story time plans to ensure the celebration could take place.

In a Sept. 22 news release, Intersect Inc. said it spoke to the Pendleton Pride committee and agreed to remain a sponsor “if the committee discontinues the queens reading to the children.”

“This is not something Intersect can support at this time,” the release read. “Intersect is a prevention agency. The mission is promoting, encouraging, and empowering our community for healthy living.”

It’s unclear why exactly the reading event prompted Intersect to want to back out. Intersect did not respond to a request for further explanation on why they wouldn’t support the event if drag queens were involved in the reading hour. Intersect was also a sponsor of last year’s Pendleton Pride festival.

The event, scheduled to take place noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 1 at Falls Park in Pendleton, is in its second year.

In a Sept. 23 Facebook post, Pendleton Pride acknowledged it would change its program by having LGBTQ community members host story time, not drag queens. The drag queens are still scheduled to perform a separate show at Pride.

“Sometimes progress comes fast, but most often progress is gained slowly and through intense conversations,” the post read.

The organizers explained that Intersect’s sponsorship included providing the insurance for the event, and there was not enough time to find a replacement. Without insurance, Pride could not go on, per Pendleton Parks Department rules. All events held at the park require liability insurance, Robyn Axel-Adams, one of Pendleton Pride’s organizers, said. Pendleton’s parks director could not be reached by IndyStar.

“We tried really hard to think outside the box and could we come up with some other things,” Axel-Adams said.

The group connected with Indiana Youth Group who aided in finding alternatives, offering to be Pendleton Pride’s insurance sponsor. But switching insurance companies last minute would have halted Pride altogether, Axel-Adams said, and they felt it was more important to find a way to have Pride.

“We didn’t also want the LGBTQ and allies community to feel that we had abandoned them that we had given up,” Axel-Adams said. “We fought.”

In statement, Intersect says its work has ‘no political agenda’
In a statement sent to IndyStar Thursday by Intersect’s Executive Director Karesa Knight-Wilkerson, the organization said it had much to learn from those for and against this event and its sponsorship. It’s unclear what prompted these additional comments, which mirrored a Sept. 23 post on the organization’s Facebook page.

“We are committed to further understanding all viewpoints regarding this as well as work with the LGBTQ+ community to educate ourselves,” the statement reads. “We are committed to our sponsorship and look forward to participating on Saturday.”

According to Intersect’s website, the nonprofit is a coalition of community stakeholders formed in 2002 to combat youth smoking in Madison County. Its focus has since grown to include combating alcohol and drug use among children. It operates with funding from two government grants: Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency (ITPC) and the Federal Drug Free Communities Grant.

The nonprofit said it viewed Pendleton Pride as a way for Intersect and other vendors to provide information on smoking and other health issues to the LGBTQ community, which the organization called “a culture that has been elusive to reach.”

“We must be equitable, meaning we have to support everyone where they are,” the organization said in its Sept. 22 news release. “It’s within the strategic plan to be involved with all groups and all that that may entail in order to provide prevention information on alcohol, tobacco/nicotine, and other drugs as well as mental health prevention messaging.”

It further emphasized that Intersect reaches out to all “with no political agenda.”

According to a study from the Office of Health Policy, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, LGBTQ individuals experience higher uninsured rates, are more likely to delay care or be concerned about medical bill cost and are less likely to have a usual source of care than non-LGBTQ people.

There is also a nationwide lack of health care professionals adequately trained in providing culturally competent care, the study noted.

Local church pushes for Pride’s end
At least one local organization has actively pushed for the cancellation of not just the story time but the entire event.

Life Church’s Pendleton campus put a call out to residents to oppose Pendleton Pride. Lead pastor Nathan Peternel verified a Facebook post from pastor Ross Steele asking for anyone upset with Pendleton Pride to join him at a Wednesday meeting held by the town’s Board of Parks and Recreation and voice their opposition.

“It’s really not a super shocking thing that people who believe in the Bible as the authoritative word of God would be opposed to such an event,” Peternel said in an interview.

The church is against sex trafficking and sexual abuse, Peternel said, adding that he was concerned about the children in attendance and that the event may be a form of “grooming,” a term often linked to abuse.

According to RAINN, grooming is a tool used by abusers to manipulate potential victims and coerce them into agreeing to the abuse. Nationally, misinterpretation of the term has been used against LGBTQ+ people, promoting an inaccurate stigma of inappropriate relationships with children in the community.

Peternel referred to homosexuality as “not healthy and not what God wants.” He added that all sex outside of marriage is a sin, and it was the church’s responsibility to remind the community of what is moral.

“That may sound archaic, but that doesn’t change God’s word,” he said. “I live in Pendleton, and I don’t want this here.”

Peternel said he was also concerned about “lewdness” in a public park.

At the board meeting Wednesday, Axel-Adams said members of the church did ask questions, but the parks board told attendees they have to remain neutral because it’s a public park. The event will still take place Saturday.

School district removed Pride flags
The forced changes to Pendleton Pride are not the first hurdle imposed on the local LGBTQ community in Madison County.

In 2021, students concerned over the forced removal of Pride flags from several classrooms at Pendleton Heights High School collected nearly 3,000 signatures on a petition asking the South Madison Community School Corporation. The district maintained teachers must remain neutral and not engage in political speech.

Reece Axel-Adams, whose pronouns are they/them, was a junior at the time and is the child of Robyn Axel-Adams. They told IndyStar in 2021 the flags helped classmates feel seen while at school.

“I remember walking by (a teacher’s) classroom, glancing at it and just being happy,” Axel-Adams said. “I knew we had an ally here at the school.”

They eventually spoke to the school board on behalf of the petition.

Superintendent Mark Hall stressed the district “celebrates all its students and does not tolerate harassment or discrimination based on any protected class” in an emailed statement to IndyStar in 2021.

Hall did not respond to an email inquiry sent Wednesday asking whether the district had an official position on either the drag story time event or Pendleton Pride as a whole.


Continue ReadingSponsor’s threat to drop Pendleton Pride forces removal of drag queens from story hour