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Weekly Statehouse update: Anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ+ bills move forward

A rally attendee cheers in response to speakers at the Indiana Statehouse. They wear a rainbow flag surgical mask over a black mask. In their ear, facing the camera is an ear plug. Their hands in front of their face are blurred as they clap and raise their fist in the air.
Lauren Chapman
IPB News
LGBTQ+ Hoosiers and advocates gathered at the Statehouse on Jan. 30 to protest a record number of anti-LGBTQ+ – and specifically anti-trans – bills filed in Indiana's General Assembly. This week, a few of those bills moved forward.

Republican lawmakers take aim at the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender children.

Here’s what you might have missed this week at the Statehouse.

HB 1608: Sexual orientation and gender identity instruction

A bill advanced by the House would ban teachers from discussing topics around human sexuality in kindergarten to third grade and force schools to notify parents if children request to change their name or pronouns in a way that is inconsistent with their sex assigned at birth.

That language is similar to a Senate bill, SB 386, which was taken off of the Senate education committee’s agenda following pushback. That bill is not moving forward this legislative session.

Supporters say it’s about parents’ rights.

LGBTQ+ advocates said House Bill 1608’s language is too vague and creates a hostile and dangerous environment for LGBTQ+ youth in classrooms. Hundreds of LGBTQ+ advocates gathered outside the House chamber Monday to protest. Many have seen this and similar proposed bills in Indiana and across the country as an attack on transgender children.

SB 480: Gender transition procedures for minors

Transgender children could no longer access gender-affirming medical care – either surgical or medicinal – under a bill approved by a Senate committee. It is already against national and international guidance to perform gender-affirming surgeries for transgender youth, and no provider in Indiana offers it for minors.

The state’s major medical groups oppose the measure and say gender-affirming care can be critical for the well-being of trans children. And the only people from Indiana who supported the bill in committee did not receive gender-affirming care as minors.

READ MORE: Indiana lawmakers file record number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills, tripling previous years

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues throughout the legislative session. And follow along with our bill tracker.

HB 1407: Parental rights

And under House-approved legislation, HB 1407, courts could no longer remove a transgender child from their parent or guardian if they’re denied gender-affirming physical or mental health care – even if that child is suicidal.

The bill's origin is a court case currently being considered by the Indiana Supreme Court.

The court record shows that the Department of Child Services responded to multiple reports that a mother was emotionally and mentally abusing her child because the child is transgender.

DCS reported that the mother called her child "the bitch that killed my son." DeVon described her as a "strong Catholic woman" and "loving mother" whose child was, in his view, unjustly taken from her.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.