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Indiana lawmakers set to hear 2 controversial bills this week involving transgender youth

Senate Bill 480 and House Bill 1608 will be heard by committees this week, with protestors planning to assemble at the Statehouse Tuesday morning.

INDIANAPOLIS — A protest similar to others that have been staged at the Indiana Statehouse this session is set for Tuesday morning over a controversial bill set to be heard by lawmakers in the House.

Senate Bill 480 would ban Indiana doctors from being able to prescribe hormones or puberty blockers to transgender youth who are under 18. 

SB 480 is one of two controversial bills this session involving transgender youth. Lawmakers are set to hear both this week. 

Lawmakers in the House’s Public Health Committee will take up SB 480 Tuesday morning. It passed out of the Senate earlier this session after emotional testimony on both sides of the issue. 

In addition to banning hormones and puberty blockers for transgender kids, the bill would also ban surgeries on anyone under 18, something that isn’t currently happening in Indiana. 

Supporters say SB 480 protects kids from making a decision they may regret later on. 

Opponents, many of them the parents of transgender kids, say it will prevent them from getting their children the care they need. 

Later in the week, on Wednesday, lawmakers on the Senate’s Education Committee will hear House Bill 1608. It would require schools to notify a parent if their child asks to go by a pronoun or name different than the one that matches their gender assigned at birth. 

If a student wants to go by a different pronoun, their parents would have to notify the school in writing at the beginning of the school year. 

Under this bill, teachers and staff would not face discipline for refusing to use a student’s requested pronoun if it’s different from their gender assigned at birth. 

HB 1608 would also prohibit topics of human sexuality from being discussed in kindergarten through third grade. 

Monday, Sen. Stacey Donato, R-District 18, issued a statement about an amendment the statement indicated she would be proposing. The amendment would require schools to notify at least one parent in writing if their child was asking to go by a pronoun different than the one matching their gender assigned at birth. 

The amendment also adds pre-K to the ban on human sexuality instruction. 

“Parents need to know what’s going on in their child’s life — especially at school. We want schools to be working with parents, but not be replacements for parents," Donato said in the statement.

Sen. J.D. Ford, D-District 29, also sits on the Senate’s Education Committee. He’s the ranking minority member. 

“We've seen them say parental notification on this bill, but then on Senate Bill 480 directly insert themselves into a decision that parents are making about care for their kid,” said Ford. "This can't be about selective rights, which is what's happening in the General Assembly now. This is an attack on the LGBTQ+ community and that's what it is, through and through,” added Ford.

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