By: Jordan Bontrager
Last week, the Indiana House passed House Bill 1608, their version of Florida’s “Don’t say Gay”’ bill that censors LGBTQ+ students from conversations about being queer and also forcibly “outs” transgender students. The bill has not yet passed the Indiana Senate or been signed into law.
The bill was co-written by Representatives Michelle Davis, Jake Teshka (from South Bend), Chris Jeter and Robert Heaton, and it was sponsored by Senators Stacey Donato, Jeff Raatz and Gary Byrne.
While the original bill prohibited “human sexuality” education before fourth grade, it was amended on Feb. 20 to include provisions that would require a student’s parents to make a written request if they want to be referred to with a name or pronouns that are “inconsistent with the student’s sex.”
Troy Bontrager, a teacher at Jimtown High School, told The Preface, “As a teacher, it is my responsibility to make sure my students are safe. I have the expectation that the people who make our laws would shoulder that responsibility as well. However, the state legislature has set up students for bullying, ostracism and possible domestic violence. Our legislature has spent countless hours and tax dollars on these ridiculous culture wars that are endangering Hoosier children.”
The senators who passed the bill claim that this is a “parental rights” issue, while the opposition claims that this could set a dangerous precedent in Indiana. Many LGBTQ+ organizations have labeled the bill as “harmful” for LGBTQ+ students, citing a recent increase in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation across the country.
The day the bill passed the House, many demonstrators protested outside the state house, including IU South Bend’s Queer Straight Alliance.