Indiana has become the first state in the nation to issue a license plate designed specifically to raise awareness about LGBT youth issues.
The new plates will be available beginning in February throughout the state and feature six hands in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple, which is the logo of the Indiana Youth Group.
That organization provides LGBT training for schools and service agencies and works to promote tolerance.
The specialty plate costs an additional $40 with $25 directly benefitting the group which provides training for schools and service agencies and works to promote tolerance.
The Indiana Youth Group had been trying to get the LGBT plate approved since 2010.
The Indiana Youth Group applied for the plate twice before but was denied. Indiana's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state, but lost after the state claimed the group "failed to show its services have a statewide impact."
The organization has been around for decades and was one of the first LGBT youth groups in the nation. When I was a suicidal teenager in rural Indiana, I found out about the group by calling the local gay hotline. The switchboard volunteers were the first people I talked to who said they were gay and that it was okay. The group had a penpal system set up to connect rural teens; I still correspond with my penpal over twenty years later.
NOTE: The image of the license plate has been updated. The one originally posted was the version previously proposed by IYG. The one approved is shown now. I also changed the headline from "Indiana Issues Nation's First LGBT License Plate" to "Indiana Issues Nation's First LGBT Youth License Plate." Readers have pointed out that Equality Maryland was issued a plate a few years ago and South Carolina will have one available on Friday. IYG has updated their press release. You can find it after the break.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 9, 2012
IYG's Specialty Plate available in 2012
Indianapolis, Indiana -- Indiana Youth Group (IYG) is the first organization that primarily serves the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in the country to be approved for a specialty license plate. The IYG specialty license plate is available now and showcases IYG's new rainbow logo.
"We are totally excited and hope that our community supports IYG and buys the specialty license plate", says Mary Byrne, executive director of IYG. "We've been working on this for 4 years! It makes a huge statement to the wider community and will hopefully let many more youth know that IYG exists."
After three applications and one law suit, Indiana Youth Group was finally approved for its own specialty license plate starting in 2012. IYG first applied to the Indiana BMV for a specialty plate in March of 2008 and reapplied in 2009. The rejection letters for both of those applications were vague and referred to some requirement not being met. In 2010 with the help of the ACLU of Indiana, IYG filed a law suit asking the court to require the BMV to state ALL of its requirements and to make the approval/rejection process more transparent. IYG and the BMV agreed to settle the law suit with the BMV stating that if IYG applies again and submits all of the required materials, it would "most likely" be approved".
The specialty license plates can be ordered online or in person at a BMV branch.
Byrne mentions that, "It's an incredible way for people to support IYG, for more people, especially youth, to know about IYG, and for people to show their pride in who they are!"
Board president, Mary-Elise Haug, understands the financial benefits of the plate to the organization. "This source of revenue will be one more way to stabilize the organization's financial future and guarantee that programs and services will be available for the youth of our community for years to come."
The extra cost for specialty plates is $40 in addition to the normal registration fee. Of that extra fee, $25 will be forwarded to IYG to underwrite IYG's programming and services.
All of the funds generated by the specialty plate will go toward direct services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth and their allies. Indiana Youth Group works with over 1300 youth a year in communities all over Indiana. By purchasing this plate, people will help fund programs at the IYG activity center, build capacity for Gay Straight Alliances in high schools around the state, and assist other communities in forming their own youth services.
Plates with low numbers are available through IYG. IYG is hoping to raise funds by giving the low numbered plates as thank-you gifts for special donations. Individuals wishing to have a low-numbered plate should check out IYG's website at www.indianayouthgroup.org.
Even if your license plate doesn't expire until later in the year, you can renew your plate and receive the new specialty plate as soon as they are available. If you continue to renew the specialty plate, you will be able to keep it for 5 years.
"The timing is perfect," adds Byrne, "IYG was formed in 1987 making 2012 its 25th year serving youth; so being able to celebrate 25 years with a new specialty license plate is incredible!"