Indiana lawmakers filed about two dozen anti-LGBTQ+ bills, tripling previous years. But what bills are still moving forward at the Statehouse and what bills missed key deadlines at the session’s midpoint?
The slate of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation largely follows a similar trend nationwide – there have been more than 350 anti-LGBTQ+ bills filed so far across the country.
Bills filed in Indiana fall into four main categories: education, gender-affirming care bans, parental rights and identity documents. With the exception of bills targeting changes to identity documents for transgender Hoosiers, at least one bill is moving forward in each category.
Gender-affirming care bans
Gender-affirming care is health care that encompasses mental, social, medicinal and surgical treatments for gender dysphoria. There were several bills filed that target surgical procedures (which aren’t recommended by medical associations for transgender folks younger than 18), hormone therapies and puberty blockers, which are largely reversible.
However, SB 480 is the only one moving forward this legislative session that targets care for minors. The bill would ban medicinal and surgical gender-affirming care for transgender youth. The bill’s author said the bill protects kids from what he calls “unproven and irreversible” treatments. Most major medical organizations and international guidance disagree with that claim.
There is also a bill to significantly limit what gender-affirming care is available to transgender people who are incarcerated. HB 1569 would ban people who are incarcerated from surgical transition procedures. It was amended in committee to allow access to hormone therapies.
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Lawmakers have filed education bills to limit classroom instruction on LGBTQ+ issues and what advocates call “forced outing” bills – requiring educators to inform parents of classroom behavior or expression that could signal a student’s gender identity or sexual orientation.
HB 1608 would prohibit instruction to students in kindergarten through third grade about “human sexuality. ” This amended version of the bill is significantly different from the initial legislation, which prohibited discussion of “gender fluidity, gender roles, gender stereotypes, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.” The limits on discussion mirror language from another bill which is not moving forward, SB 386, which was taken off of the Senate education committee’s agenda following pushback.
The bill also requires schools to notify parents if students request to be called by a different name, pronoun or title that is inconsistent with their sex assigned at birth.
Parental rights, child removal
The last bucket of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation are bills on child removal and the Department of Child Services.
HB 1407 seeks to codify that the Department of Child Services may not remove a child from a home solely because of their gender identity and not providing gender-affirming care to the child. The version that the House approved would stop Indiana courts from intervening when a transgender child is at risk of suicide.
Under current law, if a child is a serious risk to themselves or others and won’t get the care they need from their parent or guardian, a court can remove the child from their home.
The court could no longer do that if the parent or guardian is denying gender-affirming physical or mental health care for their transgender child under the bill sent to the Senate.