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B-N LGBTQ groups and ISU decry Colorado club shooting

Pete Aldinger places flowers at a memorial outside of Club Q on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo. Aldinger traveled from Denver with a friend to pay their respects.
Parker Seibold
Pete Aldinger places flowers at a memorial outside of Club Q on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo. Aldinger traveled from Denver with a friend to pay their respects.

Bloomington-Normal groups and institutions are decrying the shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs over the weekend and calling for change in national culture and laws.

Illinois State University President Terry Goss Kinzy affirmed efforts to make the university a safe space. In a message to the campus community, Kinzy said she is in sorrow and the university denounces the hideous act.

"It is all the more painful that this tragedy occurred on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance. I will continue to work with the leaders of our LGBTQIA+-focused student and faculty/staff organizations as well as the President’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council to evaluate our campus’ programs, policies, and processes to ensure that all voices are heard, and that Illinois State University is providing the support needed for every Redbird to feel safe and affirmed," said Kinzy.

The campuswide email comes as Kinzy and ISU ramp up efforts to change the climate following criticism by LGBTQ students who viewed a university response to anti-gay vandalism as merely tepid.

"As a campus, our vision to foster a sense of belonging and safety becomes a reality when we care for and support all members of Illinois State University," Kinzy said on Monday.

The Prairie Pride Coalition; the Bistro; McLean County Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America; and the Bloomington/Normal Chapter of PFLAG also are going public with their collective grief.

In statements, they called for a meaningful response to yet another mass shooting that has victimized the LGBTQ+ community.

The Prairie Pride Coalition vowed to resist the violence that not only seeks to end lives, but threatens to silence LGBTQ+ people and send them back into the closet.

"We mourn the loss of life in Colorado Springs, redouble our efforts to combat hate, and will continue to work together to make our nation better. We cradle and cherish The Bistro and other local spaces where members of our LGBTQ+ community find safety, inclusion, and a sense of belonging,” said the coalition in a statement.

Bistro owner Jan Lancaster said the attack is difficult to process.

"There are no answers, there is only hate and ignorance," said Lancaster, who called for more political activism to elect people who will fight for equal rights.

McLean County Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America said the shootings have created "another set of broken hearts and broken families."

"And the anticipated B.S. from some politicians and others that there is nothing to be done about it. Yes there is. We don’t have to live like this; our loved ones should never die like this," said the Moms Demand Action statement.

The Bloomington Normal chapter of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) said the violence is what happens when vitriol is left unchecked.

"When LGBTQ people are slowly being legislated out of existence, and everyone from legislators to hate groups to social media users use the same vile talking points about us, every day this is what happens. Devastation and violence. It starts with words, and continues to lead here, every time. Book bans. Don’t say gay. Violent protests at Pride. Bans on care for trans kids. Hundreds of pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation. It always leads to this,” said PFLAG.

The groups called for greater use of red flag laws, and new commonsense laws to reduce the occurrence of such tragedies.

"As a group, we mourn the loss of life and continue our myriad efforts to make Bloomington/Normal a safer, welcoming environment for members of the local LGBTQ+ community and its allies," the groups said.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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