Trans youth ally faces prison after gluing himself to Capitol railing

James M. Lantz wears a hoodie that says
James M. Lantz.

A Harrisburg judge last week held over for trial James M. Lantz, an ally of trans youth who glued his hand to a railing inside the state Capitol Building to protest the anti-LGBTQ+ actions of a state senator.

Lantz is charged with a felony and two misdemeanors stemming from his April 2024 protest of state Sen. Ryan P. Aument (R-Lancaster Co.), whom Lantz holds culpable for the suicide deaths of five trans and nonbinary youths.

Lantz, 63, is a documentary filmmaker based in Burlington, Vt. He’s very concerned about anti-LGBTQ+ legislation put forth by Aument, including book-banning legislation and legislation similar to Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law. Aument serves as majority whip of the state Senate.

In the past 18 months, five trans and nonbinary youths died by suicide in Lancaster County. Lantz maintains Aument is culpable in their deaths due to his promotion of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

“He [Aument] created an atmosphere where these kids were not wanted — a hostile atmosphere,” Lantz told PGN. “Just think about it: How tragic that is. These kids were beautiful, alive kids. And now they’re gone. It’s a profound loss not just for the families, not just for the communities — but for all of us.”

Lantz’s protest took place April 29 in the state Senate Gallery.

“I went to the Senate Gallery to confront Senator Aument before the Senate session began,” Lantz said.

Lantz glued his hand to a railing in the gallery and remained there for about 15 minutes before a nurse arrived and unglued his hand.

“A nice Capitol nurse used mineral oil to unglue me,” he said.

Lantz loudly addressed Aument from the gallery and tossed fliers onto the Senate floor, prior to being arrested. But Aument didn’t reply to him, Lantz said.

“He seemed shocked and frightened,” Lantz said. “I confronted him about the deaths and told him he was culpable.”

During the protest, Lantz wore a white sweatshirt featuring a trans flag and large black words stating: “ASK WHY 5”

Lantz has Stage 4 cancer and his bones are brittle. He hoped that by gluing himself to a railing, Capitol police wouldn’t tackle him during the protest, which they didn’t do.

“I didn’t want them to tackle me and hurt me,” Lantz explained.

Lantz was arrested at the scene and jailed for about 12 hours. He paid $500 to a bail bondsperson to secure his release.

James M. Lantz gets arrested and is escorted by police.
James M. Lantz is charged with a felony and two misdemeanors stemming from his April 2024 protest of state Sen. Ryan P. Aument (R-Lancaster Co.), whom Lantz holds culpable for the suicide deaths of five trans and nonbinary youths.

Lantz said he attempted to communicate with Aument on numerous occasions prior to the protest, to no avail.

“I went through official channels,” Lantz continued. “But [Aument] was ghosting me. Not just me but this whole issue. It really pissed me off. It was wrong and made me feel I had no other choice but to confront him about the anti-LGBTQ legislation he sponsored and cosponsored.”

At a June 24 court proceeding, Magisterial District Judge Mikaela M. Sloan held Lantz for trial on charges of criminal mischief, institutional vandalism and obstructing a government function.

Criminal mischief is being charged as a felony because Lantz allegedly caused $27,000 in damage during the incident. The other two charges are misdemeanors.

Jason D. Javie, an attorney for Lantz, entered a plea of not-guilty on behalf of Lantz at the June 24 proceeding. Javie told PGN he will vigorously defend his client.

Lantz said he’s very appreciative of Javie’s representation.

“The felony charge could lead up to seven years in prison,” Lantz asserted. “Because I have cancer, it would pretty much be a life sentence.”

A trial date hadn’t been set, as of presstime.

Lantz, who identifies as a gay man, said he has a queer son and a trans niece.

“I’m very sensitive to these issues,” he said.

Lantz said authorities claim he caused $27,000 in damage, apparently because super glue spilled onto an antique seat in the Senate gallery.

“They [authorities] seem to be going to great lengths to protect their antique furniture and they’re not going to great lengths to protect trans kids,” Lantz noted.

Lantz said his main goal is to raise awareness about the youths’ suicides. “These kids’ deaths can’t just go unnoticed. Attention must be paid,” Lantz said.

The five youths who died are: Robyn Bittenbender, 12, Sept. 10, 2022; Theadora “Thea” Cassidy, 18, Sept. 22, 2023; Ashton Clatterbuck, 22, Feb. 27, 2024; River Olmsted, 17, Oct. 16, 2023; and Brayden Snyder, 15, Oct. 25, 2022.

Lantz wants Aument to issue a public statement of condolence to the families of the five youths; recognize that he and the GOP are culpable in the suicides; and resign as majority whip of the Pennsylvania State Senate.

Aument had no comment for this story, as of presstime.

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