SUPPORT SB 354: Protects parental rights to information concerning their children
Senate Bill 354 requires public schools and charter schools in Indiana to inform parents if their child is struggling with issues related to gender identity, as long as the child is an unemancipated minor. If a student discloses information to a school staff member regarding their gender identity or expression, the staff member is required to inform the school of the disclosure, and the school is then required to inform the child’s parents. Such a disclosure by a student could include a change or desire to change their name, attire, or pronouns in a way that is inconsistent with their biological sex. The bill also addresses other matters related to the accreditation and recognition process for schools in the state.
Parents, not teachers and not the government, are best suited to make decisions regarding their child’s upbringing. In order to do this, parents must have the right to any information about their child’s life, particularly sensitive information such as gender identity. Unfortunately, it is becoming all too common for schools to aid children in concealing important personal details from their parents. Indiana, despite being a conservative state, is not immune to this problem.
The Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation in north-central Indiana has a policy unilaterally allowing children to change their preferred name and gender identity without parental consent. School corporations with “gender support plans” for students include Carmel Clay, Hamilton Southeastern, Indianapolis Public Schools, and Noblesville. Also, it is not uncommon for schools to actively conceal information from parents and for staff to be instructed not to inform parents if they learn of a student questioning their gender. This trend is dangerous for Indiana. Parents send their children to school to be educated, not to be raised. Personal matters of identity are the rightful territory of parents, and must continue to be treated so by the law, not handed over to teachers, counselors, and school administrators.
Too many schools and school employees are helping establish an unhealthy paradigm where students come to see their very own parents as the enemy. Concealing information from parents implies that they don’t have a right to know or can’t be trusted with what is going on in their childrens’ lives. It assumes not that parents are there to protect their children, but that children need to be protected from their parents. This is a reversal of everything that is so necessary about the parent-child relationship. When children are struggling to understand their identity and their place in the world, parents more than anyone else have the ability and the responsibility to offer wisdom and guidance. Making sure that personal information about a students’ well being is efficiently and honestly communicated from schools to parents will ensure that Hoosier parents can continue to direct their children in truth and love.
IFI supports SB 354.