In January 2023, when the College Fund hosted a tribal college and university (TCU) virtual session titled: Living and Learning at the Intersections: A Guide for Staff serving 2SLGBTQ+ students, there were roughly 120 anti-LGBT bills introduced in the U.S. according to this map provided by the ACLU.
Since that time, there have been more than 491 anti-LBGT bills proposed.
In one of the College Fund’s TCU 2023 virtual sessions, a TCU student asked what students can expect from TCUs, and from organizations like the College Fund and American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) with regards to advocacy, support, and considerations for the safety of our Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ relatives.
As our guest Donavan Begay Postier shared “You as a staff member might not have access to the resources, but just be open to talking about it, and hearing about it. Sometimes people want to leave folks sexuality, and gender identity, at the door…. It’s recognizing in those places of conflict that we need those discussions to happen, because if they don’t happen, how are you going to find out that what you provided to help you trans or LGBT students might have actually harmed them more then helped them….In designing spaces for 2SLGTBQ+ relatives, it is important for it to be student led, the students will tell you what they need.”
“Our experiences are rooted in the bodies we have, and they are not divorced from what we are thinking or what we are trying to learn…. (this is) what Indigenous people can bring, spiritual development as part of the academic process.” – Alfred Walking Bull (he/they)
Actionable items for institutions with physical buildings can include assessing options for creating all-gender accessible restrooms. This is a concern that many overlook but which could result in the physical harm and/or arrest of a transgender or gender-variant relative needing to do something as simple as use the bathroom.
TCUs should also be aware of where they are asking students, faculty, and staff to travel to and from, given that many states have enacted bills that put 2SLGBTQ+ people at risk.
Erin In The Morning provides a frequently updated map illustrating anti-trans legislation risk. She also provides weekly updates on her website Erin In The Morning | Erin Reed | Substack which covers national anti-trans and queer news.
For TCUs and Native organizations, those in higher education, and tribal representatives it is extremely important to review these bills and policies, which go beyond attacking the 2SLGTBQ+ community and include language that threaten the rights and autonomy of women, parents, educators and education, the healthcare system, and Indigenous sovereignty.
“They support these anti-trans legislations which have never been about the minutia. It’s not about the sports policies. It’s not about healthcare. It’s about the right to trans life. What they’re trying to do, is to make it impossible to live a trans and non-binary life. They pass these legislations to incentivize people to target us.” Alok Vaid-Menon