Indiana Has Just Introduced a “Don’t Say Gay” Style Bill

Rep. Bob Behning, chairman of the House education committee

Rep. Bob Behning, chairman of the House education committee, who supports “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Republican senators in Indiana have stated that a plan to limit sexual orientation and gender identity conversations in schools will be written in the new year. The plan will apparently take the form of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

The announcement comes from a legislative conference held on Friday, December 16. Rep. Bob Behning, chairman of the House education committee, provided a sneak peek at his educational goals for the next General Assembly meeting in January.

Were their priorities centered on improving teacher wages, public school financing, or reading levels? In other words, actual issues affecting the nation’s schools? No. Behning told The Indy Star that a colleague planned to present a proposal “similar to what Florida did in terms of sexual orientation.”

Behning went on to explain that he doesn’t know if the measure would be handled by his committee or if he will support it. He did, however, add that he supports the overall notion of “parental rights” in education—a phrase that is similar to the wording used by Florida to allow conservative parents to define the curriculum for the entire school.

“Let’s teach kids the basics and not try to get beyond that in terms of what are parental responsibilities versus what are responsibilities of the school,” he said.

The measure, according to Chris Paulsen, CEO of the LGBTQ+ group Indiana Youth Group, is a “gut punch.” Paulsen emphasized that even considering such a law would be detrimental to Indiana’s LGBTQ+ population. “The damage even having the bill introduced will cause to young people is immeasurable,” she stated.

“We will see youth die by suicide because of this. I think it’s that dire and I’m sad that lawmakers don’t realize their actions have really bad consequences, even if the bill doesn’t pass.” Paulsen noted that his organization has firsthand experience with this, having served over 400 destabilized LGBTQ+ youth in need of shelter and food in the previous year.

Sen. JD Ford, an Indianapolis Democrat and Indiana’s first out gay senator, urged the assembly to utilize their position to really solve the issues of the state. “We have so many more priorities in our state to deal with,” he added, “I don’t think that rises to the level of importance.”

 

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