GOP lawmakers don’t support parents’ rights. But we should.

UPDATE: Gov. Holcomb signed SB 480 into law on April 5.

The mask is off. The idea that the Republican Party is concerned about parents’ rights has been revealed to be a charade. No one should take the claim seriously.

Indiana legislators made this clear when they pushed through Senate Bill 480, which bans gender-affirming medical care for children and youth under 18. It bans not only gender reassignment surgery – which isn’t practiced on minors in Indiana – but the use of puberty blockers and hormone treatment.

Indiana Statehouse

A headline in the Indiana Capital Chronicle tells it like it is: “Bill eliminating parents’ authority over medical decisions heads to governor.”

That’s right, SB 480 prohibits gender affirming care even when it is needed by the child and approved by the child’s parents and physician. It passed overwhelmingly in both the Senate and the House. Only three Republican senators and two GOP House members joined Democrats in voting no.

The bill’s supporters said they want to protect children from medical procedures that are “irreversible, harmful and life-altering.” But the consensus among frontline medical groups is that gender dysphoria is serious and gender-affirming care can be life-saving. As a Scientific American article explained, conservatives are using “junk science” to target a small and marginalized group.

“The truth is that data from more than a dozen studies of more than 30,000 transgender and gender-diverse young people consistently show that access to gender-affirming care is associated with better mental health outcomes — and that lack of access to such care is associated with higher rates of suicidality, depression and self-harming behavior,” the article says.

Republicans may have been onto something when they seized on parents’ rights as a campaign issue. But it turns out that they weren’t interested in the rights of actual parents, much less of children.

It’s time for the rest of us to proclaim a real parents’ rights agenda. For starters, parents should have:

  • The right to support their children in getting appropriate health care, in consultation with qualified medical personnel.
  • The right to send their children to schools that are safe and supportive and that respect their identity.
  • The right for their children to receive a well-rounded education that prepares them not only for college and career but for life as a citizen.
  • The right for their children to learn about the diversity of human experience, including American history in all is complexity.
  • The right for their children to experience and appreciate the diversity of the communities in which they live.
  • The right to partner with the schools in providing their children access to challenging, engaging and age-appropriate reading and curricular materials.
  • The right not to have their children bullied by legislators seeking to score cheap political points.

Gov. Eric Holcomb can stand up for parents’ rights by vetoing Senate Bill 480 when it reaches his desk. Yes, the Senate and House can – and probably will — override his veto with a simple majority vote, as they did in 2022 with legislation to bar trans kids from playing school sports.

But taking a stand against what the Indiana ACLU calls a “slate of hate,” and in favor of the rights of parents, is simply the right thing to do. Governor, please veto this bill.


1 thought on “GOP lawmakers don’t support parents’ rights. But we should.

  1. Pingback: Session wrap-up: How bad was it for schools and students? | School Matters

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