Indy Pride President Responds to Indy Star Article

June 6, 2018

In response to the recent article by Gary Varvel, printed in the Indy Star, Indy Pride Board President wrote the following in response:

Dear Editor,

I’d like to wish you and everyone reading this letter a very happy Pride! This week in Indianapolis represents a time of year that LGBTQ+ persons and our allies reflect on the journey of our movement, celebrating our successful progress and mourning the cost of what that progress meant to so many along the way. Throughout the month of June, and in some places beyond, communities across the country will have similar celebrations of Pride. While our equality victory around the right to marry remains a highlight of recent years, we also still feel the sting of the terrible tragedies experienced through the decades which include more recently the infamous Pulse Nightclub shooting, the continued violence experienced by trans persons across the country and the disproportionately high rate of teen suicide among LGBT+ youth.

On June 5th the Indy Star ran an article written by Gary Varvel regarding the departing teacher from Brownsburg that refused to comply with school policy around the recognition of trans students by their names. I take issue with the articles reference to John Kluge’s assertion that his departure was not because of his insubordination and intolerance of trans students and would rather assert that those two items indeed are the exact reason Mr. Kluge has no place educating students in any program funded by taxpayer dollars.

Each episode of LGBTQ+ victimization, such as refusing to acknowledge a student by their name or misgendering them, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by students 2.5 times on average. Daily exposure to Mr. Kluge’s form of persecution is harmful to our youth and should not be tolerated. Our public education system should be a place without discrimination, and I take further issue with the glorification in Mr. Varvel’s article around Mr. Kluge’s demonstration of his Christian values in the form of stopping the bullying of trans students at BCSC. All schools should have a zero tolerance policy for any form of bullying, and we should not be treating Mr. Kluge’s intervention as some grand gesture and testament of his open mind, but rather part of the job he was paid to do.

For the Indy Star to print such an article, particularly during Pride Week in Indianapolis, is a slap in the face to the LGBTQ+ community. Many of our constituents face challenges and adversity on a daily basis without the grandstanding intolerance of pious, ill-informed writers like Mr. Varvel who further try to marginalize the lives of trans persons. I was shocked that the Indy Star would publish such a harmful story at all, let alone at such an important time for our community. I hope that Mr. Kluge is unsuccessful in his appeal on June 11, and I hope that Mr. Varvel’s article does not further the cause of those who seek to discriminate against members of the LGBT+ community. Our communities should be places where all feel welcomed and where no one faces adversity about being their true self. I hope that the Indy Star evaluates the role the press plays in making that a reality.

Jeremy Turner

President of the Board of Directors

Indy Pride, Inc.