INDIANAPOLIS — Lawmakers referred a controversial school bill to committee Tuesday as community leaders spoke out against HB 1134, which has been called "dangerous" and "racist."
Tuesday, the Marion County Commission on Youth gathered teachers, students and community members worried about the bill.
"Suppressing the truth and education smells more like communism and socialism than American," said Pastor Richard Reynolds of New Revelation Christian Church.
HB 1134 would require more oversight of learning materials. Parents would also be allowed to opt out of certain lessons and social-emotional learning activities.
Part of the bill would prevent teaching, "that any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual's sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin or political affiliation."
RELATED: Read House Bill 1134
The bill allows for the teaching of facts and history. However, teachers worry the way it's worded, plus a section that allows parents to sue for violations, will have a chilling effect on history lessons.
"Hoosier teachers are concerned about having their professional reputations damaged in their communities," said teacher Christianne Beebe. "Even if they are eventually cleared by the school board of any wrongdoing … some parents don't actually want schools to teach their children facts if those facts make them uncomfortable. We live in a culture where people dismiss facts they simply don't like as propaganda or attempts of indoctrination or fake news."
Lawmakers say HB 1134 is a response to concerned parents. The bill is similar to SB 167, which died after controversial comments about Naziism led to national attention.
Students spoke out Tuesday, worried some parents would try to shield them from lessons they need to navigate the real world.
"I believe that the obligation to educate students about their history is more important than comfortability with the curriculum," said Lizzie Koschnick.
The bill was referred to the Senate Education and Career Development committee. It now needs to get a hearing and pass committee before it can advance to the Senate floor.