Column: ‘Don’t Tread on Me’

Ever since I can remember, I’ve held personal freedoms in high regard. When I was young, living nestled in the tall pines and rolling hills of small town New Hampshire, I enjoyed running around our yard and the woods surrounding our house. When I lived in the heart of uptown Manhattan in New York City, I begged my parents to let me and my brother walk up to the park by our apartment without supervision.

This appreciation for the freedoms granted to citizens of the United States is one I still appreciate every day. Recently however, these rights have been violated, controlled and diminished in Indiana and the US. On April 5, Indiana Rep. Governor Eric Holcomb signed a bill into law banning all gender affirming care for minors. On May 4, Holcomb signed into law House Bill 1608, prohibiting teachers from teaching sexuality to children Pre-K  through 3rd grade, and also requires schools to notify parents if children request to change their preferred name. For children who aren’t accepted for who they are at home, this bill could be extremely damaging. The right to pursue happiness should include the right to gender affirming care, and by denying the care transgender children need,  you’re denying their happiness. Banning the teaching of sexuality and forcing schools to notify parents of name changes won’t stop those children from discovering who they are. These requirements will only serve to increase instances of bullying, harassment and self harm.

“Our freedoms and rights to gender affirming care, abortions, and even education, have been violated.”

One of the fundamental arguments for a small government is that it allows the people to do what they please without the interference of others. If you don’t agree with the way someone lives their life, you have every right to not participate in that way of life. What you don’t have the right to do is force your own religious, spiritual and political views on those you don’t agree with. If you don’t agree with gay marriage, don’t marry someone of your own sex. If you don’t agree with abortion, don’t get an abortion. But don’t tell others what they can’t and can do.

Aristotle once said, “A friend to all is a friend to none.” Don’t stay quiet because you want to appease family and friends. These issues don’t affect me directly, but I can see how they affect those around me and I have empathy. I won’t stand idly by while fundamental American values are contradicted and revoked from those I care about, and you shouldn’t either.