HB 1346, introduced by Rep. Teshka, forbids a school from encouraging its employees to use a student’s preferred pronouns or nicknames. Specifically, School corporations are forbidden from encouraging employees to use:
1) a pronoun, title, or other word to identify a student … that is inconsistent with the student’s sex; or
(2) a name or nickname to identify a student that is inconsistent with the student’s name on the student’s birth certificate.
That second one is written so that my son’s nickname is presumably off limits even though it has nothing to do with sex or gender. My son’s given name is “Lincoln.” That’s kind of a big walking around name for a little guy, so we nicknamed him “Cole.” We ginned it up based on the “col” in the middle of “Lincoln.” But there’s a good case to be made that “Cole” is inconsistent with the name “Lincoln” on his birth certificate; so West Side would have been breaking the law if it encouraged its teachers to use his nickname because he likes it better. Presumably the intent is to go after boys using “girl” names and vice versa. (We might have to outlaw names like “Pat” and “Jan” for those crafty s.o.b.’s looking for a loophole.) But that’s not how it’s written.
In fact, as written, a teacher is only permitted to use the preferred nickname or pronoun if the parent makes a written request and provides a medical note that the student has a “sincere, persistent, and consistent” belief that the student’s gender differs from their sex. So, if our nickname was deemed inconsistent with our kid’s birth certificate name, we’d be out of luck. We could make the request, but we’d be unable to get a doctor’s note that complies with the requirement.
Additionally, the bill defines “gender fluidity” as any “theory or ideology” that adopts views such as one that it’s possible for an individual’s gender to be based on the individual’s preferences or that an individual’s (biological) sex can be changed to align with the individual’s gender if the biological sex and gender are inconsistent. Schools are forbidden from requiring teachers to be supportive of gender fluidity.
I guess if I were a better person, it wouldn’t take personal experience to help me form my opinion on this issue. But, as luck would have it, I have several friends with transgender children. I’ve known the kids and their parents for a long time now. So, it’s hard for me not to take offense at this legislation because it seems like a monstrous attack on these kids that I know and like and their families. They’re working through issues that can be challenging enough to navigate even when everyone wants good things for the kids and is tackling the issues with an open mind. Now you’ve got the Indiana General Assembly turning these kids into another front in the culture wars. Just marvelous.