INDIANAPOLIS – Republican state lawmakers are moving forward with a bill that would require schools to notify parents if a student asks to change their name or pronouns.
House Republicans passed the proposal last month, and it’s now being considered in the Senate.
House Bill 1608 passed in the Senate education committee Wednesday along party lines, with Republicans voting in favor of it and Democrats opposed.
“Parents should not be cut out of the decision-making, and schools should not shield a parent from knowledge about their child,” State Rep. Michelle Davis (R-Whiteland) told the committee.
An amendment was approved Wednesday that would require parental notification of any name change or nickname request, regardless of whether the student wants to change their gender identity.
The bill also requires parental consent for a student to be called by a different name or pronouns. And it blocks teachers from being disciplined for not abiding by a parent and student’s request due to their religious beliefs.
Some Hoosiers protested the bill outside the Senate chamber.
“This bill would out students who identify as LGBTQ,” said Chris Paulsen, who works with transgender kids as CEO of the Indiana Youth Group. “If a student is not ready to come out to their parents, making teachers out them would be dangerous to those students.”
Most who testified Wednesday were against the bill, but two people spoke in support, arguing the bill protects parents’ rights.
“If Johnny says, ‘I’m a girl,’ and the teacher says, ‘No, you’re a boy and here’s why,’ or if the teacher says, ‘Yes, Johnny, you are now Jane,’ either response could upset parents,” said Micah Clark, director of the American Family Association of Indiana. “The best answer is you can talk to your parents about this.”
It was the second time this week that lawmakers heard a bill focused on transgender youth.
State Sen. J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis) said he believes it sends a strong message.
“They’re certainly not bending over backwards to make life easy for these folks,” Ford said. “And I think it’s really sad because at the end of the day, these students are watching what we do here.”
The bill now heads to the Senate floor.