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Guest Opinion: You’re right, Business Leaders in Christ, I do not have the right to exist

UI student Herbert Meisner responds to the recent Business Leaders in Christ case.

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Guest Opinion: You’re right, Business Leaders in Christ, I do not have the right to exist

Male judge in a courtroom striking the gavel (Dreamstime/TNS)

Male judge in a courtroom striking the gavel (Dreamstime/TNS)

TNS

Male judge in a courtroom striking the gavel (Dreamstime/TNS)

TNS

TNS

Male judge in a courtroom striking the gavel (Dreamstime/TNS)


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Jordyn Landau, the chapter president of Turning Point USA, went on “Fox and Friends” on Feb. 19 to discuss “free-speech” violations regarding Business Leaders in Christ. The group barred my friend from being an executive officer because he was gay, and its leaders claimed that his “choices” were against their faith.

Landau started her interview by saying, “As a Jewish student, I am proud of them holding to their faith.”

So it is only appropriate for me to start this out: “As a Jewish student, I am proud to exist and use the Jewish value I was raised with to call out injustices when I see them.”

As I walk down Clinton Street, I see churches galore flying rainbow flags proudly. As I hold my partner’s hand walking downtown, place to place, I see smiles, I see stares, I see whispers, I see backhanded compliments. I see it all.

RELATED: Court rules UI discriminated against student group

The emotional labor of being queer isn’t easy. The consistent need to defend my identity of being asked questions regarding “why we chose this lifestyle” and “why we waited so long to come out” does not come without an emotional price.

And the decision to bar students like me over something completely out of my control perpetuates that.

I am fine. But the queer children sitting in church right now being told that their existence is a sin is not. The queer children lying in their beds at night, praying to God to “please change them” is not. The queer children, who are five times more likely to commit suicide, are not doing OK. And when/if these queer children go to college and still trust to join a faith-based organization, they will, once again, be denied. The queer children, who are losing faith in themselves, is looking at the news in putridity.

This is not about free speech. This is not about “diversity of thought.” Agreeing or disagreeing with my ability to have a fruitful life is not a thoughtful debate.

RELATED: Jaimes: It’s up to us to exercise our free-speech rights

These laws and rights to discriminate are not just disheartening, they are harmful. There are logical arguments against Leaders in Christ’s decision. The human-rights clause at the UI protects classes on sexual orientation and gender identity and bar organizations from registration if they disagree. If they want university support and funding, they should support all university students.

But this is bigger than that. While this is culturally a war against queer students, it also systemically abuses us.

If women were never allowed to serve as executives, women would make no social progress of independence.

If black folks were never allowed to serve as executives, they would make no social progress of independence.

If we cannot join your organizations, if we cannot try to climb through leadership and occupational development, how do we mend the gap of discrepancies? How do we assimilate in society when you don’t let us?

So, you’re right. My sole existence, something I had no control over, is violating your rights to free speech. But ask yourself, is contributing to the suicide epidemic queer people face worth your “freedom of speech?” If that’s the case, make it known before you start every meeting.

— Herbert Meisner

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