Editor's note: This story contains a mention of suicide. If you or someone you know needs help, you can reach the Suicide Prevention Hotline by dialing 988.
BLOOMINGTON — Indiana University students took to the streets in solidarity with the LGBTQ community Thursday afternoon.
“We are very fierce advocates for LGBTQ+ rights and we believe that students on campus deserve to feel safe and supported in their identity," protester Laura Rusk said.
A crowd of dozens with signs in hand marched across campus and gathered for a town hall, where speakers shared their experiences being queer on campus.
At the center of the afternoon was Declan Farley.
The IU sophomore identifies as trans and queer and says campus has not felt safe for him over the past five months.
He says starting in August, his dorm mates would yell slurs, bang on his door and leave trash outside of his room.
“It made me feel really unwelcome and I attempted to take my own life in October due to of all of this," Farley said.
When he reported the harassment to the school, he says the administration handled it poorly.
“They reacted not in a timely manner. I was told it was due to lack of communication and they said ‘everybody makes mistakes’ and I was like ‘as a student tries to take their own life and is being harassed and doesn’t feel safe on campus, mistakes aren’t okay," he said.
WRTV reached out to IU Bloomington for comment about the recent discrimination.
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson said “we are deeply committed to maintaining a caring, inclusive, and safe campus for all students.”
The university encourages students to stand up for their beliefs, exercise their right to free speech and advocate for change.
Student Ava Roblero believes the administration needs to be doing more to combat this discrimination.
“Simply to acknowledge it or at least say that it’s not okay and not ignore it. I think that’s a big problem is that we know it’s here and we have the materials to fix the problems or even address it because it’s an inconvenience," she said.
Here are the protesters demands for IU Bloomington administration:
- The university needs to respond to situations like these promptly.
- The university then needs to take action immediately.
- The university needs more serious, harsher punishment for perpetrators.
- The university needs to properly train staff like Resident Assistants on how to handle LGBTQ discrimination.
- The university needs to require LGBTQ competency training at New Student Orientation.
IU Bloomington has a Care Team that works to connect with students who may need additional care or support.
The university encourages any student experiencing harassment to report it to the Bias Response Team.