Avery lives in Sioux City, Iowa, where they study theatre at Dordt University. While studying, they also work in the costume shop for the theatre department. She identifies as bisexual and genderfluid.
Avery feels frustrated and erased by Dordt University’s student handbook, which regulates romantic relationships and sexual contact, defining LGBTQ+ relationships as sexual misconduct and forcing strict and unhealthy views of sexuality and gender onto students. Avery has been told by professors to dress more feminine, and she has seen horror stories from LGBTQ+ students who have come out: When Dordt officials learned about one of Avery’s female friends who was engaged to a woman, Dordt threatened to forbid her from graduating. Avery worries that if they were to come out by being open about their relationship with a woman or exploring a legal name change, she would face discipline, forced participation in so-called “conversion therapy,” restrictions on being able to graduate, or refusal from the school to issue a new diploma.
“I have stayed at Dordt, rather than leaving for another college, because many of my courses here would not transfer to another college, it would be difficult for me financially, and I have made friends here that I would lose or be distanced from if I changed schools,” Avery said. “The campus climate at Dordt is not safe or supportive for queer and trans students.”
Avery is raising their voice to protect all LGBTQ+ students at Dordt University and religiously affiliated colleges across the country.