Indiana lawmakers amend bill to require notification of parents for name and pronoun changes

("E02 State Senate Chamber" by Bill Stanley, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Changes were made to a bill, this past week, that deals with the names and pronouns children decide to use at school in Indiana.

House Bill 1608 would not allow human sexuality to be taught in pre-k through third grade, but a school employee or staff member can answer questions about the topics that students might have. On Thursday, lawmakers in the Indiana Senate debated mostly on the pronoun and name a student would use at school.

An amendment was made. The bill now says if a student asks to use a different name or pronoun at school, at least one parent must be told about that within five days. The original bill required parental consent.

Another amendment, proposed by Democratic Senator Shelli Yoder who represents District 40 in southern Indiana, would have allowed a student to take back their request to change their name or pronoun if they didn’t want the school to tell their parent. That amendment was voted down.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor of Indianapolis is disappointed that Republicans didn’t budge on their stance, but he says he’s even more afraid of what will happen to children.

“Young people have to make the hard decision to even come out and express how they feel. Then we’re going to make it harder by saying that if you tell me in confidence and I’m someone you trust, then I have no choice but to inform your parent,” said Taylor.

Lawmakers also removed a section that would have prohibited schools from disciplining teachers who refuse to use a preferred name or pronoun on religious grounds.

Supporters of the bill argue that it’s necessary for parents to know what is going on with their kids at school. Opponents are concerned for the child’s safety, especially in cases where parents may be divorced or don’t agree on LGBTQ related issues.

HB 1608 will be voted on by the full Senate.

Since the amendment changes the bill from the version approved by the House, it will need to go back to the House for another vote if it is approved by the Senate.


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