Activists rally inside Statehouse in response to SB 480. Photo by Lauren Gdowski.
HAILEY PALOMO | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Indiana General Assembly continues to promote 18 bills targeting the LGBTQIA+ community. Should they pass, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana states that these “Slate of Hate” bills will “push LGBTQIA+ people out of public life.” The Butler Collegian has reported on these bills the past few weeks, but here are updates as of March 28.
Legislative session timeline
Monday, April 17 will be the last day for the third reading of Senate bills in the House. It will also be the last day for House adoption of conference committee reports without Rules Committee approval.
Tuesday, April 18 will be the last day for the third reading of House bills in the Senate, as well as the last day for Senate adoption of conference reports without Rules Committee approval.
Saturday, April 29 will be the last day for adjournment of both houses for the Indiana General Assembly 2023 Session.
Status: On March 28, SB 480 passed in the House and will now be sent to Governor Eric Holcomb for consideration. If Governor Holcomb signs the bill, it will become law in Indiana.
Overview: Prohibits physicians or other practitioners from providing gender transition procedures to minors.
Amendments: On March 23, amendments one through four of SB 480 did not pass in the House. Amendment three would have altered the bill to allow gender-affirming care to minors as long as it is determined that it is in the best interest of the minor, along with consent from a parent and education on the effects and potential consequences of gender-affirming care.
Status: On March 27, the bill passed its first reading in the Senate.
Overview: Prohibits human sexuality instruction in kindergarten through third grade. This bill would also require employees or staff members of a school to use only the names, pronouns or other identifiers to identify a student of any age that is consistent with the student’s sex assigned at birth. This can only be avoided if requested by the parent of the student or the student if they are an adult before the school year begins. Although requests to the school can be made, a school may not discipline an employee or staff member if they refuse to use a different name or identifier due to religious conviction.
Amendment: One amendment is in the process of being proposed to the Senate. It suggests that a school counselor will be immune from disclosing privileged or confidential communication made to the counselor by a student. A school psychologist may not disclose any information from a person except during trials for homicide when disclosure would determine mental competency. This amendment would protect school psychologists, nurses, social workers and counselors from violating a federal law or regulation.
Status: On March 23, the bill was passed through the committee.
Overview: Restricts the Department of Corrections, DOC, from providing gender therapy or medical care to incarcerated transgender people. It provides that the DOC may not authorize payment or state resources to provide or facilitate the provision of sexual reassignment surgery to an inmate patient.
Status: On March 9, the bill was referred to the Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedure.
Overview: The state of Indiana or any person acting under the law is restricted from infringing on the right of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of the parent’s child. This would restrict children from access to gender-affirming care if the parent does not approve.
What does this mean for the LGBTQIA+ community?
The passing of these bills, especially SB 480 and HB 1608, would come with repercussions for LGBTQIA+ youth, so much so that the ACLU describes this wave of legislation as a “coordinated, hate-driven campaign.”
Instructor of psychology Dr. Shelby Terwilliger said it would be disastrous and that the bills are “very much targeting trans youth.”
Regarding SB 480, Terwilliger said that the decision to take hormone replacement therapy is both safe and proven to improve the lives of transgender youth by lowering depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation. She added that much of the gender-affirming care provided to minors, such as puberty blockers, is reversible and safe.
As for HB 1608, Terwilliger said that the bill would police gender and gender expression. Removing all types of sexuality education would also prevent a child from being able to address issues with boundaries or consent and restrict them from fully understanding their body.
Terwilliger also expressed her concern for the hypocrisy of SB 480 and HB 1608 being passed together. While SB 480 restricts a minor’s access to gender-affirming care, HB 1608 is marketed as a bill to allow parents to raise their children strictly how they see fit. The confusion arises when a parent is no longer given the opportunity to provide their child with gender-affirming care if they choose to.
“That completely undermines the rights for parents and families to get the care that they need for their kids,” Terwilliger said. “It is completely just full of hypocrisy that they use parental rights in one situation to undermine them in another.”
If these bills pass, Terwilliger said many families may resort to leaving Indiana for a more accepting state. She mentioned the sociological effects of families having to uproot their lives and start over in a new place to provide their children with the care they need.
“It should be a sign saying this is not the right direction to go when you’re actively pushing Hoosiers away from their home,” Terwilliger said.
Andre Hardy is a senior criminology-sociology major and president of Butler LGBTQIA+ Alliance. He also fears many transgender people and their families will have to leave the state.
“[Transgender people are] leaving Indiana because it will no longer be a safe place for us,” Hardy said. “With these bills, it gives people the permission to dehumanize trans people and treat us like we’re animals, like we’re not human.”
The passing of these bills, according to Hardy, is dangerous because not only will LGBTQIA+ youth not feel safe in a space where they should, but it could also contribute to an increase in suicides of LGBTQIA+ people of all ages. Hardy also said this wave of legislation is designed to specifically target transgender people. Should these bills be implemented, the existing negative rhetoric surrounding being transgender will increase and push transgender individuals out of public life.
Eleanor, who requested that her last name not be used, is a sophomore in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and treasurer of Butler Alliance. She expressed her concern about the vague verbiage of the bills and said they are “state-sanctioned hate and abuse against trans Hoosiers.”
“[SB 480] prevents life-saving medicine,” Eleanor said. “It prevents the ability for trans Hoosiers to be able to live healthy and fulfilling lives.”
Eleanor said HB 1608 is absurd because schools should be a place for children to explore their identity and personality, which includes the ability to make mistakes in a controlled and safe environment. The passing of HB 1608 would remove this opportunity in the name of parental rights.
With the risks of a child being forced to come out to a parent, the passing of HB 1608 would harm a child who is trying to discover their identity more than it would benefit them. Emi Rosen, a first-year creative writing major and first-year representative of Butler Alliance, said that the legal obligation to out students to their parents is one of the most frightening aspects of this bill.
“I have friends who have literally been thrown on the streets and are now homeless because they were outed to their parents,” Rosen said.
In response to SB 480 passing through both chambers, the ACLU of Indiana has organized a Rally to Protect Trans Youth at the Statehouse this Saturday. To check on any anti-LGBTQIA+ bills in the nation, this spreadsheet suggested by Terwilliger provides consistent updates. Members of Butler Alliance suggest checking in on any transgender or LGBTQIA+ friends, speaking out on what is happening in Indiana and contacting representatives and senators. Members also suggest checking websites such as ACLU Indiana or Instagram pages such as Impact.