February 28, 2012

U of L students rally in the rotunda

By Rae Hodge–

Jyler Donovan (left) and Molly Eames (right) are U of L leaders in the fight for LGBT equality

FRANKFORT – University of Louisville students, lobbyists and citizen activists met at 9 a.m. on Wednesday to prepare for a long day of political action in Kentucky’s Capitol building, which included a 2 p.m. Fairness Campaign rally in the rotunda to push for anti-discrimination and anti-bullying legislation that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Kentuckians.

Twin bills House Bill 188 and Senate Bill 69, respectively sponsored by Rep. Lou Ann Marzian, D-Louisville, and Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, would bar employment, housing and public accommodations discrimination based on perceived sexual and gender identity. House Bill 366, also sponsored by Marzian, would clarify current bullying laws by identifying protected classes of students, such as disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Jyler James Donovan, a senior women and gender studies and Pan-African studies major, and co-founder of U of L trans-activist student group, T2, was among the hundreds of participants flooding the hallways, and talked about why the legislation is relevant to U of L students, saying, “Anti-bullying is important because our students aren’t even going to make it to U of L if they don’t get out of high school.” Donovan added that, “they’re being discriminated against so they don’t feel empowered enough to make it to U of L.”

The rally surrounded several guest speakers, including Rep. Perry Clark, D-Louisville, and Sen. Denise Harper-Angel, D-Louisville, who promised to support the legislation in the House and Senate. Famous grassroots social justice advocate, Councilwoman Attica Scott, D-1, of Louisville also lent her voice to the furor and engaged the crowd in classic call-backs and chants.

Megahn Lampe, junior women and gender studies major at U of L, delivered a speech about their personal experience with bullying, and commented on state political influence. “Passing something here that says we protect our students will have a rippling effect throughoutthe nation and world,” said Lampe.

Molly Eames, a junior political science major lobbying at the Capitol, commented on the risk of the anti-discrimination legislation failing, saying, and, “Our whole livelihood is at stake. Anywhere else in Kentucky, you can be denied a job or you can be kicked out of your housing. In Louisville, we’re safe but in the rest of Kentucky, we’re not.”

House bill 188 and Senate bill 69 have been issued to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees respectively, while House bill 366 has been placed in the House Education Committee. All three currently await hearing.

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Photos: Rea Hodge/The Louisville Cardinal

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