As the statewide legal assault on trans children continues, the Indiana legislature has introduced three bills that would severely limit LGBTQ+ students’ rights to privacy.
Introduced last Thursday and modeled on Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, House Bill 1608 would ban discussions of “gender turnover”; gender roles; gender stereotypes; gender identity; gender expression; or Sexual Orientation” in kindergarten through third grade. Senate Bill 413, introduced the same day, would go so far as to ban mentions of LGBTQ+ people in classrooms up to 12th grade. The bill would also prevent schools from setting policies that would prevent parents from accessing their students’ records and policies that would prohibit teachers from telling parents about their students’ “social, emotional, behavioral, mental or physical health.” to inform.
Although this language may sound vague, it has been used in legislation filed in other states to develop policies that would effectively force schools to out students to their parents if a student discloses their sexual orientation or gender identity to a teacher or counselor disclosed. In the Indiana bill, this provision would also specifically require teachers to inform parents when a child is permitted to use a gender-specific bathroom that differs from the gender assigned at birth. And while the House bill doesn’t specifically give parents the ability to sue a school district for breaking the law, the Senate bill does.
In fact, SB 354 makes this mandatory excursion policy clearer elsewhere in the text. The proposed legislation would require schools to notify parents if a student has “conflicting feelings” about gender identity or if they change their name, dress or pronoun “in a way that is inconsistent with the student’s biological sex.” matched at birth”. Schools would have to pass this information on to parents within 10 days.
However, not all Indiana lawmakers make it their business to target trans children. SB 39, introduced earlier this month, would expand the state’s antidiscrimination laws to protect students based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Katie Blair, director of advocacy and public policy at the ACLU of Indiana, told the educational journal Chalkbeat that HB 1608 and SB 354 “constitute a coordinated, hate-driven campaign to oust trans people from public life.” Indiana’s ACLU also dubbed these special bills the “tablet of hate,” according to Chalkbeat.
“LGBTQ people belong everywhere, including in our state, and we will not condone these assault laws,” Blair said.
The Indiana statutes are just a few of the more than 100 anti-trans laws introduced in state legislatures in just the first few weeks of 2023. These include childcare bans not only for trans children but also for trans adults, some of which apply to people up to the age of 26. While not specifically anti-trans, the dozens of anti-drag laws that have surfaced up implicitly criminalize trans people. As proponents have noted, even if these laws are not passed, they will impact trans people’s mental health and serve to change public opinion about trans people — mostly for the worse.
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