At the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, we are working to build a culture of inclusivity where all of us are seen and supported across our differences. We believe that by working for communities where everyone belongs and is valued, we create the conditions where all of us can have thriving lives free from violence. With this vision, ICADV celebrates LBGTQ+ youth and calls on Indiana lawmakers to join us in our commitment to inclusion by rejecting HB 1608 and SB 480.
The ICADV Youth Council is a group of Indiana teens representing multiple counties who work to prevent violence through culture changes. The council is guided by the voices and passions of Indiana’s young people, and when they discuss what safety looks, sounds and feels like, responses include feeling a sense of belonging and connection with the adults in their lives. These adults can be within households, libraries, schools and their broader communities. According to the bills brought forth by legislators in the Indiana General Assembly, there is not just a gap in how adults in power consider safety, but a gulf.
The slate of Indiana bills targeting LGBTQ+ youth, specifically transgender and non-binary young people, are designed to make schools unsafe environments for young people to be their whole, authentic selves. According to the 2023 Indiana Kids Count Data Book, young people connected to services and support systems demonstrate improved overall health outcomes. Feeling a connection to the adults, peers and institutions surrounding them is critical for youth well-being.
To address teen violence rates in Indiana, we need to create protective environments for young people to be who they are without judgment or fear. However, our current legislature is proposing a range of bills from SB 480 to HB 1608 that will increase the possibility of LGBTQ+ young people disconnecting from their schools and posing a host of potential risk factors from mental health to academic struggle. Even the proposition of these bills, regardless of whether they succeed, is significantly harmful to queer communities across the country as it signals to students that those in power want to silence them and hide them from public existence.
ICADV’s Youth Council calls on all Indiana legislators and adults to do what it takes to ensure nurturing conditions for all young people to prevent violence and include youth in the decisions that deeply impact them. We at ICADV, and our Youth Council, oppose the slate of bills that put youth safety at risk. We call for a state where youth are encouraged to get involved in the political process, tell adults what they need, and be listened to and considered in legislative actions.