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Indiana Senate committee advances gender identity proposal



Indianapolis, Indiana – A bill that would force schools to inform parents if a student requests to change their name or pronouns is now being worked on by Republican state legislators.

The measure was approved by House Republicans last month, and the Senate is now debating it.

At the Senate education committee on Wednesday, Republicans voted in favor of House Bill 1608 while Democrats abstained.

“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.

Regardless of whether a youngster want to change their gender identification, an amendment that was approved on Wednesday would require parental notification of any name change or nickname request.

Also, the bill mandates parental approval before a kid may use an alternative name or set of pronouns. Additionally, it prevents teachers from being punished for disobeying a parent’s and student’s request because of their religious convictions.

Outside the Senate floor, some Indiana residents criticized the bill.

“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.”

Last week, lawmakers heard a bill aimed at transgender children for the second time.

J.D. Ford, a state senator from Indianapolis, said he thinks it sends a clear 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 Senate floor will now debate the bill.