Bill would require schools to report student requests to change names, pronouns

Gender identity and transitioning are the focus of a number of bills filed by Indiana lawmakers in the 2023 session, including one that would require teachers and schools to disclose if students request to change their names or pronouns.

The focus on transgender youth this year builds on similar themes from the 2022 session, when lawmakers passed a controversial bill to ban transgender girls from girls’ sports. At the same time, lawmakers appear to be steering clear of bills on other controversial social issues in schools that have sparked previous disputes in Indiana and elsewhere.

The proposed legislation is causing alarm in some camps, including the ACLU of Indiana, which has called for action to stop the “record number of anti-LGBTQ bills” in the Indiana legislature, referring to them as a “slate of hate.”

Senate Bill 354, authored by Republican Sen. Jeff Raatz, chair of the Senate Education and Development Committee, primarily deals with school accreditation. But Raatz’s bill would also require teachers and school employees to report to the school if a student indicates that they would like to change their “name, attire, pronoun, title, or word to identify the student in a manner that is inconsistent with the student’s biological sex at birth.”

They would also have to report if a student expresses having “conflicted feelings about … or difficulty handling” their gender identity or gender expression. The school would then be required to disclose this information to the student’s parents within five days.

GOP Rep. Michelle Davis, who authored the legislation banning transgender girls from girls’ sports last year, has introduced a bill this year that would prohibit medical professionals from providing gender transitioning or puberty blocking procedures to minors.

Another bill, authored by Republican Rep. Ryan Lauer and co-authored by Davis, specifies that a child could not be removed from their parents’ custody if the parent declines procedures or therapies that “affirm the child’s perception of the child’s gender or sex if the child’s perception is inconsistent with the child’s biological sex.”

At least one prominent lawmaker pushed in the opposite direction.  A bill by Senate Minority Leader J.D. Ford, a Democrat, would extend anti-discrimination protections at schools to students based on their gender identity and sexuality.

Ford’s legislation, Senate Bill 39, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to state law prohibiting discrimination in public schools, which currently includes disability, race, color, gender, national origin, religion, and ancestry.

The bill would prohibit segregation based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and ban schools from denying students admission on that basis. It would also prohibit discrimination in hiring teachers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Aside from the early focus on transitioning and gender identity, the General Assembly seems to lack the appetite to tackle other bills about controversial social issues bills that marked the 2022 session, including another attempt to ban certain topics on race and racism from classrooms.

And despite earlier reports, lawmakers don’t appear interested in debating legislation similar to a Florida bill—commonly referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law last year—that restricts discussions of sexual orientation in early grades.

The House’s deadline for filing bills was Thursday, while the Senate’s deadline was Friday afternoon.

The bills from Raatz and Ford have been referred to the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development, which meets for the first time on Tuesday. Neither bill is currently on the agenda for that day.

Chalkbeat is a not-for-profit news site covering educational change in public schools.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

10 thoughts on “Bill would require schools to report student requests to change names, pronouns

  1. The party of micromanaging strikes again….

    Fix the roads and work to get us out of the bottom 5 for infant deaths and stop worrying about what people do in their bedrooms

  2. This really is part of a “Slate of Hate.” Our legislators should be ashamed of themselves for promoting such awful, immoral legislation. You can bet that if this becomes law, the requirements will ultimately result in harm to vulnerable kids, potentially even suicides.

    1. There’s already 43% suicide rate, Steve. And this is after we bend backwards to affirm them at every opportunity–attempting to shield them from anyone who objects to this and even incentivizing teachers to hide this from parents, to nurture it in confused kids, one might even say to groom the kids. (Dare I say it?)

      Imagine thinking it’s a good idea to presume parents are the bad guys, that they don’t love their children…simply because not all of them think it’s a great idea to surrender their kids to faddish mass psychosis movements.

      Should we have let teenaged girls starve themselves to death in the 1990s because a failure to affirm their ideal body image is “hateful”? Anorexia and transgenderism are both variants of dysphoria. Why treat only one as a mental illness and the other as a justification for surgery and hormone experimentation before the child is even a legal adult able to make these decisions without mom & dad?

    2. Lauren, again, what exactly is the problem we are solving for?

      Last year‘s transgendered sports bill from Rep. Davis was an absolute waste of taxpayer dollars, given that the IHSAA had already solved the nonexistent “problem”.

      Hence, she’s going to need to tell me about all the kids in Indiana she’s worried about. Numbers and lots of them.

      Yet again, a bunch of legislators who are interested in “freedom” … as long as you agree with their religious and political beliefs.

    3. anyone who objects to this either 1. does not have kids or 2. should not be a parent.

      anyone who thinks this is political needs to get a life.

    4. Dare I say it? An argument that falls back on the word “grooming” is likely to have some issues. Despite all of the hate-filled arguments in the right-wing “news” media, LGBTQ+ matters have ZERO to do with pedophilia, and no matter what the conservative pundits might tell you, gay or transgender people are NOT “grooming” children for sexual abuse. That is one of many, many right-wing myths that have been launched with the aim of stirring up culture wars and ginning up anti-LGBTQ+ hysteria and hatred in order to win votes.

      And it is inaccurate to state that transgenderism and anorexia are both variants of dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is the term linked to being transgender. Body dysmorphia is present in some (but not all) people with anorexia. Dysphoria and dysmorphia are not the same thing, despite the similarities in the words.

      Finally, if the reporting is accurate, the bill that is the subject of this article is not addressing surgery or hormone therapy for minors at all — that is a different topic. The bill in this article, allegedly having to do with school accreditation, has to do with reporting things that students simply verbalize to teachers or other school employees. It requires schools to set up a reporting process essentially designed to “out” kids to their parents. Hard to see what that has to do with accreditation.

  3. you people are wrong. until the child is 18 the parents have every right to know what is going on. what this is is an anti-grooming law. it doesn’t say ANYTHING about making any of this illegal.

    these kids need to be protected from the likes of you!

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets on
{{ count_down }}