OpinionLetter to the EditorCALL TO ACTION #NOHB1523

CALL TO ACTION #NOHB1523

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Dear students,

As you may know, the Mississippi legislature right now is attempting to pass what they are calling a “religious freedom” bill. But much like the wolf in sheep’s clothing, what this bill (House Bill 1523) really does is give anyone, including government employees, the “right” to legally discriminate against others and hide behind religious “freedom.”

This heartless legislation would allow business owners to throw LGBTQ+ people out of their stores and restaurants. It would allow government workers to refuse to recognize the love held by two gay men or women. It would allow foster parents to force their son or daughter into ineffective, harmful “conversion therapy.” We cannot simply stand by and let this happen.

The state Senate is scheduled to meet Monday at 2 p.m. We are 100 percent sure they will vote on it. So what do we do?We are planning a series of actions to convince our legislature to vote against HB 1523.

This Monday, March 28, we will be gathering as many college students, recent college graduates and high school students from all over the state (wearing their school t-shirts) to meet at the Capitol at noon. There will be two protests running simultaneously. Students will be sitting in the Senate gallery wearing their school paraphernalia.

A few weeks ago, Gov. Phil Bryant made a statement urging college students to stay in our state after they graduate. We will be sitting in the gallery and chanting, “We won’t stay in a hateful state!”

This way, even if the bill passes through the Senate, the governor would know what we want and have the incentive to veto it if and when it reaches his desk. There will also be a silent protest happening on the second floor of the Capitol. At the same time, we will be filling up a petition for college students around the state to deliver to the governor. Then on Tuesday, there will be a rally outside the Capitol at noon. We really want as many college students from all over the state involved, especially on Monday.

If you can’t make it to an event, you can still make a stand. Organize a protest in your community or on your campus. And find out who your legislators are (OpenStates.org is a good resource), call, write or e-mail them and tell them to fight against this bill. They are elected to answer to us.

This is our chance to take a stand. Our chance to make a difference and show other folks in Mississippi that we don’t always have to be last. We may not have the resources like North Carolina or Georgia, but we can beat this.

Pass this message along to as many other college students, high school students, recent college graduates as you know. Share it on all of your social media outlets. Use the hashtag #noHB1523 and help us spread the word. We want a diverse group of people in the Capitol. We need to do this, y’all. I hope you all are ready. Change is coming. I’ll see you on Monday.

For planning or logistical help, please email or call 769-208-3890.

Natalie Offiah,
JSU student & community organizer

Anna Davis,
USM alumna & community organizer

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