Expanding the voucher program and banning gender-affirming care for minors were the most egregious education-related actions that the Indiana General Assembly took in the session that just concluded. But they are far from the only damage lawmakers did.
Book banning. Legislators teased the idea of banning books and criminalizing librarians all session, then finally put the language in a House-Senate conference committee report and passed it on the last day. House Bill 1447 requires schools to publish lists of all the books and materials in their libraries and create a procedure to challenge books as obscene or harmful to minors. Making obscene or harmful materials available to minors is a felony, and the bill repeals a provision that lets school librarians defend themselves by arguing the books are educational or they’re acting in the capacity of their employment. It was approved 69-28 by the House and 39-10 by the Senate on the last day of the session.
Outing trans kids. HB 1608 requires schools to notify a parent within five days if their child asks to be called by a different name or gender. Critics said the requirement could harm children whose parents aren’t supportive of their gender identity. The bill also bans instruction in “human sexuality” for students in preschool through grade 3. The provisions apply to public and charter schools but not to private schools, including those that receive state-funded vouchers. The House voted 63-29 to approve the bill, and the Senate voted 37-12 to concur with changes made by the House.
Union busting. Senate Bill 486, promoted as a “deregulation” measure, repeals a requirement that school boards and administrators discuss certain issues, such as curriculum, discipline and class size, with local teachers’ unions. It’s one more step in a long-running campaign by the Republican supermajority to sideline unions, which tend to support Democrats. The bill also eliminates some teacher training requirements and school regulations. The House approved it, 63-36. After several delays, the Senate narrowly signed off on changes made by the House, 27-23.Continue reading