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Indiana GOP introduces slate of anti-LGBTQ+ bills including two Don’t Say Gay bills

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Following the example of Florida’s Don’t Say Gay legislation, lawmakers in Indiana have filed a series of bills intended to eliminate the discussion of gender and sexual orientation in schools.

Rep. Michelle Davis (R) introduced a bill to prohibit the discussion of gender fluidity, gender roles, gender stereotypes, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation in kindergarten through 3rd grade.

A similar measure from State Sen. Gary Byrne (R) expands that prohibition to grades K-12 and includes a requirement that schools disclose to parents if their child is permitted to use a bathroom not aligned with their biological sex.

A third bill introduced by Rep. Jake Teshka (R) would ban Indiana schools from using pronouns, names and nicknames that are “inconsistent” with students’ and employees’ sex assigned at birth.

The ACLU of Indiana has called the three bills a “slate of hate.”

“A number of these bills represent a coordinated, hate-driven campaign to push trans people out of public life,” Katie Blair, ACLU of Indiana Advocacy and Public Policy Director, said in a statement. “LGBTQ people belong everywhere, including in our state and we will not stand for these attack bills.”

Other anti-LGBTQ+ bills currently before the Indiana General Assembly include a measure to require school employees to report students who request a change to their name, pronouns, or attire, and a bill to ban medical professionals from providing puberty blockers or gender transitioning procedures to minors, introduced by Davis. Gender-affirming surgery is almost never performed on minors. Puberty blockers, which are reversible and have been shown to reduce lifelong suicide risk among trans people, are a far more common form of treatment for trans youth.

Davis was also the lawmaker behind last year’s state ban on transgender girls playing in girls’ youth sports, which was vetoed by Republican Governor Eric Holcomb and overridden by the state Assembly and Senate. A lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Indiana seeking to overturn the ban was dismissed last week, allowing the law to take effect.

In a statement, Davis called her latest bill “commonsense legislation to support parents’ fundamental rights.”

“The goal of this bill is to empower Hoosier parents by reinforcing that they’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to introducing sensitive topics to their children,” she said.

In December, House Education Committee chair Rep. Bob Behning (R) spelled out the state’s priorities when he warned Indiana could follow Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ (R) lead with a proposal “similar to what Florida did in regards to sexual orientation,” referring to the Parental Rights in Education Act, known by LGBTQ activists as the Don’t Say Gay law.

“Let’s teach kids the basics and not try to get beyond that in terms of what are parental responsibilities versus what are responsibilities of the school,” Behning said.

Editor’s note: This article mentions suicide. If you need to talk to someone now, call the Trans Lifeline at 1-877-565-8860. It’s staffed by trans people, for trans people. The Trevor Project provides a safe, judgement-free place to talk for LGBTQ youth at 1-866-488-7386. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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