Indiana House Bill 1134, which is currently being considered by the Indiana House, aims to limit the teaching of issues on the topics of race, sex, religion, and political affiliation.
HB 1134 orders any person employed by a school shall not teach “that an individual, by virtue of their sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
If it is passed, parents would be allowed to file lawsuits against schools that do not follow the new rules, according to the bill.
Bloomington North High School social studies teacher Chris Blackburn expressed his concern that the bill promotes an adversarial relationship between educators and parents.
“The educational experience should be a collaborative one,” Blackburn said.
The bill currently being considered by the House would also require schools to create a “curricular materials advisory committee” made up of parents, teachers, and other community members. Educators would be required to provide all of their materials, lesson plans, and educational activities to this committee for parents to review the content and opt their children out of certain lessons.
Teachers in the Monroe County Community School Corporation are already required to share education materials on Canvas, the district’s learning management system, Blackburn said.
Teachers would need to create alternative assignments for the students whose parents opt out, Blackburn said.
While the bills proposed in the Indiana legislature do not explicitly mention critical race theory, many believe their goal is to limit the teaching of race-related topics. Critical race theory is an intellectual and social movement examining the intersection between race and the law and analyzing how race is used as a social construct to oppress people of color, according to Britannica. Educators like Blackburn believe that not teaching sensitive aspects of history that deal with race would be harmful to students and provide them with an incomplete education.
“We really put it all out there. We explore the uncomfortableness of that whole time period, and we also explore the discomfort that exists today,” Blackburn said on teaching about topics involving America’s history of racism. “From my perspective, students feel okay. They don’t feel like they are being indoctrinated.”
Earlier this month, a similar bill was dropped from consideration in the Indiana Senate.
“I was relieved to hear that the bill found no path forward,” Bloomington Sen. Shelli Yoder, D-Ind., said in an email to the Indiana Daily Student regarding the Senate bill.
Indiana is in the middle of a serious teacher shortage. 96 percent of Indiana school districts reported a shortage in 2021, according to one survey.
“Further burdening our already overworked educators will not improve the education of our students, especially considering that many mechanisms already exist to make curricula transparent,” Yoder said.