House Bill 1134, a controversial education bill nearly identical to a previous piece of legislation that failed to gain traction, was passed by the Indiana House of Representatives Wednesday evening. The bill is now being sent to the Indiana Senate for further consideration.
Drafted in response to the nationwide debate around “critical race theory,” the bill would limit ways teachers can speak regarding the topics of race, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliation — specifically, it denies any topics parents may perceive as “racial or sex stereotyping” or any attempts at “affect[ing] the student’s attitudes, habits, traits, opinions, beliefs, or feelings,” according to the bill’s digest.
Beyond restrictions on these topics, the bill would require teachers to post their curricula online and for school officials to provide a functionality allowing parents to opt their child in or out of certain lessons. The bill would also give parents more power in the curriculum-building process by creating a “curricular materials advisory committee” composed of teachers and administrators, parents and other community members.
Students would also be required to gain parental consent for any “mental, social-emotional, or psychological services” they may receive from the school corporation.
Any violation of the requirements of this bill could result in the school corporation facing civil action, with successful cases awarding the plaintiff with full court costs and attorney’s fees, as well as damages up to $1,000, according to Chapter 21 of the bill.
Indiana Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, voted against the legislation. Although Errington represents all of Muncie, her Delaware County counterpart, Rep. Elizabeth Rowray, R-Yorktown, voted in favor of the bill.
Senate Bill 167, which was withdrawn from the calendar earlier this month, drew controversy after its author, State Sen. Scott Baldwin, R-Noblesville, responded to a teacher’s concerns on how they would go about teaching ideologies such as Nazism in the classroom — Baldwin responded that, even in regard to such extreme ideologies, teachers must remain impartial. He later went on to apologize for his remarks in an email to The Indianapolis Star.