HB 1608: Student and Staff Concerns


Gretchen Prifogle

For many years, there has been a theme of voices being silenced. Especially those who identify as transgender or through their sexuality. These voices are now trying to be heard.

With the recent advances in House Bill 1608, the state of Indiana’s education is now targeting transgender youth. This originally started off as a similar law to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill from Florida. HB 1608 is now heading to the Senate and being put into consideration. The house passed the bill with a vote of 65-29.

The bill currently states, “… that a school, an employee or staff member of a school, or a third party vendor used by a school to provide instruction may not provide any instruction to a student in kindergarten through grade three on human sexuality…” This is regarding the students’ sexual identity regarding pronouns, preferred names, or a title. 

The bill also requires the teacher to report to the parent when the student is having thoughts of changing the student’s identity. Many students have shown opposition within the school and across Indiana. A lot of the students believe that it is hard for students to open up to their teachers, let alone their parents. Unfortunately, a lot of parents still show signs of homophobia or transphobia, which may defer children from letting them know.

Several teachers have shown opposition to the bill to protect the lives of their students. Science teacher Andrew Bever posted on Twitter his opposal to one of the votes on the bill.

Featured is the Tweet that caused many teachers to openly state their opinions on the matter. (Payton Mucker)

“I believe that calling someone by the name or pronouns they refer, is not the job of the state to decide,” Bever said. “It is up to the individual to who that name or pronoun applies. Potentially, we are going to have some serious troubles among the students. It would be strange that those 18+ have a higher transgender rate than those 17 and under. Unfortunately, our students would also not feel comfortable with who they truly are.”

As the bill goes through voting processes, teachers advise not to support this, although many believe the bill is likely to be passed.

“I believe that this is all for a political tactic,” art teacher Charmaine Griffith said. “In 2018, 41 anti-LGBTQ bills were presented. In 2022, there were over 250. In the first three months of 2023, there have been over 300. If you throw a lot of boulders at a wall, even if one doesn’t get through, together they will chip away at protections and rights.”

The LGBTQIA+ youth have and are often targeted in schools because of their sexuality. Over the years, some students have become more open about who they are to classmates and teachers. This law would halt the students from openly stating how they feel about themselves and who they want to be.

Many groups are targeted throughout the school corporation as previously mentioned. The information related to sexuality shall not be shared or informed to those in grade three or lower. Many are concerned with the idea of students not being informed about the thoughts of them being uncomfortable with their bodies.

“A lot of people I know struggle with acceptance and what society sees as ‘normal,’” junior Carissa Dawson said. “Finding who you are is a process and it can change over time. It can’t just be a one-time report. High school is a time to experiment and discover yourself and how you feel.”