Schools work to socialize students, helping them understand social behaviors, encouraging them to be the best version of themselves, and acting as a safe place to those who can’t go home to one. So why are we trying to limit their individuality and put their safety at risk?
House Bill 1608, otherwise known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, passed the Indiana House on Feb. 23 and is currently being decided in the state’s Senate. Aside from denying young children education on human sexuality, the bills require written parental consent if a child wishes to be referred to with a name or pronoun that’s inconsistent with their sex. Even with all these requisites, teachers aren’t required to respect a student’s wishes.
This is an issue I hold close to my heart because I have family and friends who identify as LGBTQ+. I can't imagine how hard it must be having to come out, let alone having the fear of being outed without your consent. This bill legally forces school officials to out LGBTQ+ kids and, in doing so, puts them at risk for harm. We don't know the circumstances of every child's home life, and it's not something schools should infringe upon. This bill also strips the ability for kids to live authentically as themselves. These are things that I cannot support, and it's what prompts me to write this letter opposing HB 1608.
It goes without saying that this bill targets the young LGBTQ+ community, subjecting them to bullying and mistreatment in and out of school. Both of which have been proven to lead to self-harm and suicide. Regardless of your political stance, supporting this bill supports the notion that some people don’t have the right to be who they are and speak freely about themselves. Given all that’s at risk, I urge you to contact Indiana state senators and tell them to oppose the passing of House Bill 1608.
Beatriz Gomez, senior at Indiana University studying youth development