Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed House Bill 1608, authored by Rep. Michelle Davis, R-District 58, into law Thursday. HB 1608 was one of 91 bills signed yesterday. House Bill 1608 — one of 252 total bills passed since the beginning of the session in January — prohibits teachers from teaching human sexuality to Hoosiers in pre-kindergarten through third grade. HB 1608 was passed 63-29 by lawmakers on April 24.
One contentious provision of the bill covers pronouns and gender identity, requiring schools to notify parents or guardians within five days if an unemancipated minor asks to use a different name or set of pronouns while at school.
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The original version of the bill required parents to give consent for a student to go by a different name or set of pronouns than given at birth, but that part of the bill was stripped April 24. Another amendment removed a different section of the bill that would have prevented teachers from being disciplined for not using a student’s preferred pronouns or name due to a religious position.
Despite prohibiting teachers from instructing about sexuality through third grade, the law does not prevent school employees and staff members from responding to direct questions about gender and sexuality from students.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana released a statement Thursday condemning the signing of the bill and stating that human sexuality is an undefined term.
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“Not every child can be their true selves at home without risking their physical or emotional well-being,” ACLU of Indiana advocacy and public policy director Katie Blair said in the statement. “Our schools should protect all students — including LGBTQ students — so they can learn and thrive in a safe environment.”
The ACLU has been protesting the bill since its introduction, including hosting a rally Feb. 20 at the Indiana Statehouse to oppose the bill. Protestors chanted “We say gay!” and said the bill sends a dangerous message to LGBTQ+ Hoosiers.