BGSU community faces threat of anti-LBGTQ+ legislation


Heidi Gasser, Reporter

Along with the rest of the nation, The BGSU community has been coping with the wave of anti-LBGTQ legislation as it sweeps through the states. 

Ohio currently faces four anti-LGBTQ bills. House Bill 68 targets affirming healthcare for transgender minors, while House Bill 6 and House Bill 8 address how schools should be permitted to discuss LGBTQ+-related content. Senate Bill 83 threatens to allow universities to out gay and trans students to their families. 

Queer Trans Student Union Vice President Damon Sherry, a political science major, said that this type of legislation threatens access to various forms of essential support for trans individuals. 

“People that are trans and trans-identifying go through situations when they’re minors or when they’re adults [making] them wonder: would they have made it this far without healthcare, or without the resources that they need, that these bills are targeting,” Sherry said. 

QTSU President and psychology major Mitchell Thatcher fears that people in the trans community are losing the confidence and safety necessary to be themselves. 

“Most anti-trans bills, they feel like they are so far away, but this is happening right here in Ohio. They’ve been introducing bills about anti-LGBTQ healthcare…it’s local.” Thatcher said. “[People] are very scared. And it’s really terrifying to see people who you are really close with, fear for their life. Persecution. It’s persecution that’s literally what it is. I’ve seen my friends try to hide, try to pass as their biological sex when they shouldn’t have had to.”  

LBGTQ activists have voiced concerns about whether there is evidence to suggest that the majority of Americans are truly in favor of limiting aspects of LGBTQ identities. BGSU Political Science Professor Dr. Melissa K. Miller said that there is not enough data yet to gauge public opinion on these topics. 

Miller theorized that the recent onslaught of transgender-focused legislation has progressed from an increase in the public’s awareness of trans issues. According to Miller, changes such as the increased portrayal of LGBTQ characters in entertainment, Kaitlyn Jenner’s transition, and medical developments in treatment for trans minors have all played a role in raising “cultural awareness.” 

“It’s a hot political topic, and it really wasn’t on anyone’s radar even 10 years ago,” Miller said. “It’s now on everyone’s radar, and when politicians find a hot button issue that they believe will drive voters to the polls to vote for them, they will then hammer on that issue, try to get mileage on that issue,” Miller said. 

Thatcher said that BGSU’s support for the trans community could be shown through hiring transgender individuals, including academic literature on the trans experience, and supporting struggling students financially in times of need. By normalizing trans identities, QTSU is leading by example.  

“In QTSU we always try to normalize transness and talk about it as if it’s not something that is out there, because it’s not. This is something that happens to so many people, throughout the history of the world,” Thatcher said.