The Indiana Senate is currently considering a bill that would police students’ thoughts and actions regarding their names, clothing and very identities. LGBT students, and particularly transgender students, would be targeted by this proposal. To protect individual liberty and privacy, and to stem anti-LGBT violence, we oppose this authoritarian bill.
Senate Bill 354 would require K-12 teachers to report to schools anytime they find that a student wishes 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.” The bill also would require teachers to report if a student demonstrates “conflicted feelings about… or difficulty handling” their gender identity. Under the bill, schools would have five days to report these thoughts and behaviors to the student’s parents.
All champions of individual liberty should find ample reasons to oppose this bill. The bill would compel teachers, regardless of their personal or political views, to serve as part of the state legislature’s broader strategy of restrictive legislation that many Hoosiers feel are anti-LGBT. It would require schools to keep official records of students’ thoughts and behaviors on gender identity. Even more dangerously, it would require schools to disclose this information to the student’s parents, regardless of the safety of the student’s home environment. None of these outcomes represent defenses of liberty or freedom. The freedom to be, the freedom of bodily autonomy, is critical in a free liberal democracy.
We fear that this bill will physically endanger far too many Hoosier students, as transgender students already face a horrifying degree of bullying and discrimination, even without S.B. 354. We believe this bill could exacerbate these troubling trends. Forcibly outing students to their parents, and keeping official records of students for expressing counter-cisgender thoughts, can only lead to further danger and abuse. And it would represent a signal that the state government stands with bullies, not the victims of their abuse. Transgender students need love, kindness and support in the face of extreme harassment—not state-endorsed violence.
And there’s a broader, more theoretical reason to oppose the Bill: it doesn’t reflect well on the kindness of Hoosiers.
“It shows people across the country that we’re not welcoming,” said Indy Pride Education Director Jaye Walters.
Schools should be a place for students to forge their identities, interacting with peers and determining who they are and what they believe. Students should have the basic freedom to be freely curious without fearing that their teachers are not educators, but thought monitors. We at The Bachelor denounce this bill, and we ask the Wabash community to do the same.