Indiana senators passed an amended version of House Bill 1608 out of committee in a 9-4 vote Wednesday.
If passed, HB 1608 would limit instruction on human sexuality and require parent consent to change a students’ name, pronouns or title.
The bill states teachers will not be punished if they do not adhere to a students’ request to use a different name if it does not align with the teachers’ religious beliefs. The bill would allow teachers to answer questions from students about human sexuality but does not let teachers begin a discussion about human sexuality without explicitly being asked.
The original bill, which was passed by the House Education Committee Feb. 20, required Indiana schools to notify parents if a student requested to go by a different title, name or pronoun inconsistent with their sex assigned at birth. The new version of the bill would now require teachers to not only notify but also receive consent from parents for any changes to a student’s name, regardless of whether the name is consistent with their sex.
A previous version of the bill banned instruction on human sexuality to students in kindergarten through third grade, and an amendment expanded the bill to include Pre-K.
Members of the public testified for and against HB 1608.
Cindi Hajicek, a resident of Elkhart County, said during public testimony she does not believe parental authority ends at fourth grade and would like the bill to apply to instruction for Pre-K through 12th grade.
“Legal protections would be put in place to safeguard parental authority,” Hajicek said. “It is a win-win.”
Melanie Davis, a transgender mom, said during public testimony that harmful LGBTQ stereotypes are still present and have not yet been resolved.
There is much to learn and clarify on human sexuality, Davis said. The bill is dangerous to students because it is dehumanizing sexual identity and can raise suicide rates.
“It has often been delayed by a lack of exposure to a full understanding of human sexuality,” Davis said. “The fascination with trans people at this moment feels creepy to me.”
HB 1608 now heads to the full Senate for another round of debate and voting.
CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article used a previous name to refer to HB 1608. The story has been updated.