The Senate Committee on Education is scheduled to hold a hearing today on HB 1608 which concerns itself with instruction of human sexuality and polices kids’ names for gender conformity. (The committee hearing is likely underway as I write this.)
The first part prohibits “any instruction to a student in kindergarten through grade 3 on human sexuality.” O.k., sounds like it might be reasonable. Depends on what they mean by “human sexuality.” I’ll just go to the part of the bill that tells me what the General Assembly means by that. Whoops. No dice. They flat out offer no guidance on what’s prohibited. If you want to prohibit kindergarten teachers from running Pornhub on a loop and stepping out for a smoke, knock yourself out. It’s not happening, but can’t be too safe, I guess. On the other hand, this is so vague as to potentially prevent a first grade teacher from alluding to someone’s mommy and daddy because … that might lead to uncomfortable questions about what distinguishes a mommy or daddy from the other adults in a kid’s life.
The second part has language similar to what I discussed in connection with HB 1346 a couple of months ago. It says that an employee or a staff member of a school may only use a name, pronoun, title, or other word to identify a student that is inconsistent with the student’s sex if the student’s parent requests [the use] in writing. Even if the parent makes such a request, the school can’t discipline a teacher who chooses to be a dick about the situation and insist on using the kid’s legal name, notwithstanding everyone else’s request to use a different name.
My grandpa, Nelson, went by “Nellie” and his sister was nicknamed “Bob.” I doubt my great-grandparents would have fussed enough to send a note to the school on the subject. So, any teacher referring to them by those nicknames would be lawbreakers in modern Indiana. Progress!
And, more seriously, as I said in connection with HB 1346:
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.