Bringing hours worth of public testimony and protest, discourse and frustration, the controversial House Bill 1608 would require teachers to notify parents if their child requests to be called by a different pronoun or name that doesn’t reflect their gender.
The bill passed the Indiana Senate on Monday by a vote of 37-12.
In addition to this portion of the bill, HB 1608 also bans any discussion of “human sexuality” to children from kindergarten to third grade.
Democratic Senators shared their frustrations with the bill.
Sen. Andrea Hunley, D-Indianapolis, said she has received negative comments from constituents.
“Right now the outreach that I’ve received has been from people who are either frustrated that it’s not really requiring the parent consent that they wanted or they’re frustrated that it seems like it’s coded language that is still going to disenfranchise certain groups of students,” Hunley said.
Sen. Stacey Donato (above, center), R-Logansport, replied by saying the two would simply have to “agree to disagree.”
Sen. J.D. Ford, D-Indianapolis, said the bill aims to fix a problem that doesn’t exist, regarding the portion that bans teachers from teaching about human sexuality to young children.
“Our teachers care about our children and it’s insulting to the entire profession to think there is a conspiracy theory, conspiracy of teachers trying to secretly teach our young children anything that is age-inappropriate,” Ford said.
He then complimented the young students who came to testify against the bill.
“One positive upside is that although you are trying to move them out of the closet, you are moving them to be young activists protesting this bill,” Ford added.
Donato closed the debate on the bill before tallying votes, saying she thinks amendments made in the Senate have made the bill stronger.
“We know parents’ rights are important and they need to know what’s going on in their child’s life at school. 1608 is about ensuring schools and parents are working together to keep their kids to be successful,” Donato said. “In other states, we’ve seen confusion and lawsuits relating to the issue of parental notification and gender identity issues. Our schools are looking for guidance and we’re trying to provide that in this bill.”
The only Republicans to vote against HB 1608 were Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, Sen. Eric Bassler, R-Washington, and Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville.
Ashlyn Myers is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.