Judi Epps has never had any qualms about being out in Owen County. She and her partner have lived in the rural county just northwest of Monroe for 29 years. And she's a doer. She can't help being involved.
"I'm active wherever I go," she said matter-of-factly. "... My name is out there in Spencer. I do taxes at the senior center. I'm a volunteer with AARP. I'm the president of the senior center."
Neither have Helen Harrell nor Carol Fischer, partners who have lived in Spencer for 20-some years now, been shy about their relationship.
"As a couple, we've been out there," Harrell said. "We go everywhere together. We do everything together. We joined the Y. We're just there."
What does it mean to be a welcoming and affirming church?
That was one of many topics pondered June 24 at "Journey Toward Justice: Promoting a Welcoming Society for Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender People in Your Faith Community and Beyond."
"It is important that people of faith explore how they can be open and welcoming to everyone, including GLBT people," said participant Mark St. John of Indianapolis, one of 57 people who attended the three-hour workshop at Bloomington's First United Church.
Five-year-old Alica ditches her spoon and lifts the bowl up to her mouth. "Hey, don't do that," says her father, Frankie Presslaff. "The bowl is too big for that."
Gab, 2, is in the copycat stage and brings his bowl up to his lips. "No, it's not soup," Presslaff scolds. Alica laughs, as chewed Cheerios spill out from between her crooked teeth.
Six children, ranging in age from 2 to 13, sit around the kitchen table for breakfast, and they all want something different. This one wants Cheerios. That one likes Raisin Bran — without the raisins. The next one wants Cheerios— with raisins — but without milk.
This is a typical day in Presslaff-Compton family's life, but this isn't a typical household. While Presslaff pours from two enormous boxes of cereal into colorful plastic bowls, the children's other father, Kelly Compton, prepares to leave for work.
"Bye," says Alica, as Compton heads toward the door. "Be good, Daddy Kelly."
A big fat "F" stares back from the grade card Indiana received in the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educators Network (GLSEN) "State of the States 2004" report.
The report surveyed state legislation affecting the welfare of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. A generic anti-bullying law for public schools went into effect in Indiana in 2005, too late to bump up the state's failing grade.
Against this background of state-level inattention to gay and transgender students, Monroe County Community School Corp. (MCCSC) distinguished itself last October. The MCCSC board voted unanimously to add "sexual orientation" to corporation-wide nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policies protecting students and employees.