LGBTQ student attributes bullying to election

By Sam Malone

DeKALB | On Nov. 9, the day after the presidential election, a senior transgender student was threatened by two boys who pretended to point a gun at him on his way home from class.

After the incident, Sam, who didn’t want to disclose his last name and major, was afraid to go to class and said he believes many people are just as afraid as he is. He did not report the incident, as he felt he didn’t have enough information.

Sam said he has been an openly transgender student for four years and has never faced any problems on campus until now. This has led him to believe the incident is linked to President-elect Donald Trump’s victory.

“I think individuals need to be held responsible for their actions, but I also think that Trump and his campaign need to openly raise this indicative against various groups of people,” Sam said.

Some students who are part of the LGBTQ community expressed that Trump’s biggest insult to them was running with Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Pence, the previous governor of Indiana, has openly opposed the LGBTQ community on several occasions, according to an Oct. 5 Huffington Post article.

Molly Holmes, Gender and Sexuality Resource Center director, said the most common emotion individuals at the center have seen from students in the LGBTQ community is uncertainty. She said she feels confident in the NIU community and uses policy to reassure students of their rights.

“I think where some of our LGBTQ students are finding some solace or some comfort is that our state, and also specifically our university, has explicit protections for people who are LGBTQ,” Holmes said. “At this time, [NIU policies] include gender identity and expression, so if a student is feeling discriminated, then they have protection.”

The most recent of these accommodations is being able to input one’s preferred name and pronoun on Blackboard.

Such policies were in place before the election, and Spokesperson Joe King said NIU has not added new safe-zones or resources in response to the results of the election.

Despite these policies, Sam said he believes some students are still afraid, and the results of the election have changed the way he feels he must present himself. Freshman psychology major Rachel Huck identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community and said she is more afraid of Pence.

Huck said when Trump announced his approval of marriage equality, she felt relief but is still fearful because of the influence Pence could have on Trump.

“I feel that even before the election, there were instances where you would have to be more careful, and I feel like now that Trump was elected, I have to be a lot more careful and aware,” Huck said.