UNITED STATES NEWS

Indiana governor signs bills targeting LGBTQ students

May 4, 2023, 1:30 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s governor on Thursday signed a bill that would require schools to notify a parent if a student requests a name or pronoun change at school, one of the final bills approved in a legislative session that had targeted LGBTQ+ people in the state, especially students.

Critics worry the law could out transgender children to their families and erode trust between students and teachers while supporters have contested the legislation keeps parents empowered and informed about their children when at school.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s approval of the legislation comes in a year when GOP-led legislatures around the country are seeking to curb LGBTQ+ rights, specifically targeting trans people’s participation in sports, workplaces and schools, as well as their access to health care.

Recently, Florida Republicans on Wednesday have banned or restricted access to gender-affirming care such as hormones, puberty blockers, and surgeries.

Indiana’s name and pronouns law, which goes into effect July 1, would require school officials to provide written notification to a child’s parent or guardian within five business days of the child asking to be called a different “pronoun, title, or word,” according to the bill. It also prohibits, from prekindergarten through third grade, instruction on “human sexuality,” something that is not defined in the bill.

“I believe in parental rights,” Holcomb said in a statement Thursday. “I also just believe its commonsense that sex education should not be taught in prekindergarten through third grade.”

Holcomb also signed into law on Thursday a bill that could make it easier to ban books from public school libraries, staff at which would be required by July 1 to publicly post a list of books they offer and provide a complaints process for community members.

Schools and librarians could also no longer argue, as a legal defense, that the texts in their libraries have “educational” value. The law would still allow them to argue the text has literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

Those who supported the legislation expressed concern that sexually inappropriate or “pornographic” materials are available to children in school libraries. Critics, however, said the legislation could open the door to banning books or criminal prosecutions of librarians simply because some people don’t like the topics of the texts, particularly those with LGBTQ+ themes.

The law “improves transparency,” Holcomb said in a statement, adding he was “happy that these decisions will continue to take place at the local level.”

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Arleigh Rodgers is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/arleighrodgers.

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Indiana governor signs bills targeting LGBTQ students