Indiana House Guts Informed Consent Bill On Trans Ideology In Public Schools

Indiana House Guts Informed Consent Bill On Trans Ideology In Public Schools

Six months ago, parents throughout the country expressed outrage upon learning that a California school taught kindergarteners boys could become girls and girls could become boys. This school did so without notifying the children’s parents or allowing the parents to opt their children out of these transgender classroom discussions.

Earlier this year, the Indiana Senate took steps to prevent a similar scenario from playing out in the Hoosier state by passing Senate Bill 65. Passed by a 37-12 majority, Senate Bill 65 would have required schools to let parents inspect all instruction materials used for “instruction on human sexuality, including sexual activity, sexual orientation, and gender identity.” Additionally, the bill would have required schools to obtain signed parental consent before providing “a student with instruction on human sexuality, including sexual activity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

But yesterday the House Education Committee sold out parental rights to LBGT activists by gutting Senate Bill 65 before voting it out of committee 8-5. Monday’s vote came less than a week after the committee took testimony on the bill, hearing from speakers such as 17-year-old Sarah Russell. Russell, a high school senior, told the committee her speech class included instruction on gender-neutral pronouns that sought “to teach students that you can change your sex and that’s normal.” She added that her “parents were not informed of this material before [she] took the class and were shocked to see it in [her] textbook.”

Among others, Purdue University education professor Tara Johnson argued to the contrary. She said Senate Bill 65 “would silence opportunities to discuss the issues that lead to LGBTQ students being bullied.” Of course, Senate Bill 65 leaves intact any school anti-bullying measures, and transgender students would be equally protected from harassment from their peers.

The education committee adjourned last week without voting on the bill. Their delay provided the American Civil Liberties Union and other LGBT activists the opportunity to pressure committee members to eviscerate the parental rights the law sought to protect.

Their efforts succeeded: On Monday, the House committee amended the Senate version, deleting the requirement that schools provide parents access to instruction materials related to sexual activity, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The committee also removed the requirement that parents consent before their children receive “instruction” on gender identity.

What does that mean? Schools may teach children as young as age five that a boy can become a girl or a girl can become a boy. Teachers may tell students that they must refer to a transgender student as belonging to a false sex and using incorrect pronouns. In other words, it allows exactly what transpired in a California kindergarten in August.

As I explained at the time, parents in California, as well as most other states, have no ability to prevent this type of indoctrination in public schools because “gender identity” is not considered “sex education.” In fact, in opposing Senate Bill 65, the ACLU of Indiana used this point to argue that the law should be scrapped, tweeting, “[g]ender pronouns are not sex education. Learning how to treat transgender people with respectful language should not be controversial.”

What the ACLU calls “respect,” however, is a demand for science denial and heresy. The Indiana legislature had a chance to prevent the public-school system from steamrolling parents who refuse to submit to the latest idolatry. Unfortunately, the House Education Committee bowed to the god of political correctness when pressured by LGBT activists. It’s a repeat pattern in a supposedly socially and fiscally conservative state with a decade-long GOP majority that in 2015 famously capitulated to LGBT activists in reversing a religious freedom bill to strip potential legal protections from religious people while extending extra legal rights to LGBT people.

It’s time parents speak up and contact their legislators. Demand the tax-funded public education system provide transparency in education and protect parental rights. And do so now, before the Indiana House votes on the revised bill. For the children—and the truth.

Margot Cleveland is a senior contributor to The Federalist. Cleveland served nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk to a federal appellate judge and is a former full-time faculty member and current adjunct instructor at the college of business at the University of Notre Dame.
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