INDIANAPOLIS – A bill introduced at the Indiana Statehouse would require schools to notify parents if a student asks to change their gender identity, including their name and pronouns.
The proposal appears on the last page of Senate Bill 354, a school accreditation bill.
Under the bill, teachers and other school employees would be required to notify parents if their child has requested a change in gender identity, specifically using a “name, attire, pronoun, title or word to identify the student in a manner that is inconsistent with the student’s biological sex at birth.”
If the student tells school employees about this kind of change or questions their gender identity, the bill requires the school to inform the child’s parent within five business days.
The bill’s author, State Sen. Jeff Raatz, declined our request for an interview. He provided a statement, which reads: “Senate Bill 354 simply requires school districts to notify a parent if their child has expressed conflicted feelings with gender identity or expression, as well as if the student asks to change their name, attire or title to one inconsistent with their biological sex at birth. Parents should know if their child is struggling and shouldn’t be kept from the situation.”
Some parents support the idea, arguing it helps ensure transparency.
“For me, personally, I don’t mind if children are transgender or gay,” said Lauren Freeman, who has two kids in elementary school. “I think it’s really important that parents are involved and know what’s going on with their child when they’re at school.”
But State Sen. J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis) sees it differently.
“It would out students,” Ford said.
Ford said he’s worried about how the proposal could impact transgender kids who aren’t ready share that information with their families.
“That’s the real implication that this bill has on students in our state,” Ford said. “I just don’t think it rises to the level of importance. We have so much more we can be talking about and discussing.”
Another opponent, Indy Pride education director Jayne Walters, said she’s troubled by this proposal and several other bills that also focus on gender identity.
“It shows people across the country that we’re not welcoming,” Walters said.
The bill needs to receive a committee hearing in order to advance. Raatz, the bill’s author, chairs the Senate Education and Career Development committee, so he makes decisions on which bills get heard.
As of Monday, a hearing on the bill has not been scheduled.