This legislative session, a proposed civil rights bill hit the statehouse floor.
But as soon as it started, Senate Bill 344 – which offered protections to gay, lesbian and bisexual Hoosiers – was efficiently killed off without a public hearing.
As a member of the LGBT community herself, sophomore Alaina May said seeing the bill die is “frustrating.”
“It frustrates me to no end to see legislation such as this, which benefits more than just LGBT people, not go anywhere,” May said.
May said legislators are acting like LGBT people don’t face discrimination, saying lawmakers are acting like petulant children, plugging their ears and singing.
“It seems like the Indiana State Legislature wants to deny the existence of a problem that is clearly occurring many places,” May said. “Especially in Indiana.”
Senior Michelle Rojas, president of the Franklin College Pride Alliance, agrees, saying everyone deserves equal rights and opportunities despite sexual orientation.
Even though the bill provided protections for many people in the LGBT community, transgender individuals weren’t included in the language – something Rojas said “purposely excluded the transgender community.”
“I hope one day that when bills are introduced they are very inclusive and put more effort into anti-discrimination towards this amazing community,” Rojas said.
When the bill swiftly died in early February without a public discussion of the 27 proposed amendments, Greenwood senator Brent Waltz, called it a “victory for common sense conservatism.”
“It appalls me that an 80-year-old Baptist widow wanting to rent out the second floor of her house might be hit with a $50,000 fine if she chooses not to rent to a gay couple based on religious grounds,” Waltz said in a statement about the bill.
House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, said he will push for the LGBT civil rights debate be brought back to the statehouse this year.
Before that can happen, the democrats will have to face a Republican supermajority.
As the LGBT community watches for new developments, the Franklin College Pride Alliance will keep trying to educate the campus.
“The reason for [the alliance] being on campus is to provide a space for people who are either questioning their sexuality or want to be around like-minded people when it comes to issues about sexuality,” said Nick Crisafulli, the alliance’s faculty advisor.
Throughout the year, the organization sponsors a handful of events to promote LGBT education.
This semester, the organization is putting on an event called “Game of Life.”
“[It] is basically a game show of the audience trying to guess the contestant’s sexuality,” Rojas said.
If interested in LGBT issues, the college’s pride alliance meets every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the multicultural lounge.