INDIANAPOLIS — As it stands right now, Senate Bill 386 would limit what teachers can say in the classroom about topics including age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, creed, color, marital status, familial status, mental or physical disability, religion, or national origin.
"This is a pro-ignorant bill – Senate Bill 386," said Rev. Dr. Ivan Hicks. "We need to understand where we have stumbled as humanity and how we have overcome. But to ignore it, that’s what you call ignorant."
A proposed amendment to the bill would strip out most of the topics except when it comes to race and color.
Opponents fear it would curtail how teachers can talk about Black history.
"Why are people afraid of Black history? Why is that? We're drafting laws that target Black children really because it's the history that young people are learning in class that’s being challenged here," said Marshawn Wolley.
The bill is authored by Republican Sen. Jeff Raatz. Under his bill, school districts must come up with a complaint process for parents who are concerned with how a teacher is presenting a topic in class.
Then, if a parent isn't happy with how that complaint is handled, they can appeal to the secretary of education.
"This is a bill that targets teaching. Not geography. Not math but teaching about race and racism. Who does it harm? It harms Black principals who are simply trying to improve a climate of a school. It harms Black teachers," said Dr. Russ Skiba, professor emeritus at IU.
This isn't the first try by some lawmakers to pass laws banning race concepts from being taught in the classroom, but the renewed push has Wolley concerned.
"History tells us that slavery was wrong. Jim Crow was wrong. Redlining was wrong. You can't pass a law to change that," Wolley said.
13News reached out to Sen. Raatz, whose office provided the following statement from him: "My top priority as chair of the Senate's education committee is to ensure our students are receiving the best possible education. I want our classrooms to be a place where all children can learn and thrive, and we will continue having conversations about the best way to achieve that."