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Bills that could impact your children at school move forward in the House

House Bill 1483 deals with bullying, while the other bill, House Bill 1608, is about teaching human sexuality in grades K-3.

INDIANAPOLIS — Two bills that could affect your children at school moved forward Thursday in the General Assembly. 

House Bill 1483 deals with bullying, while the other bill, House Bill 1608, is about teaching human sexuality in grades K-3. 

Both bills got enough yes votes to move them on to the next step in the legislative process. 

The author of HB 1608 said it's an issue of parental rights. 

"The goal of House Bill 1608 is to empower parents by reinforcing that they are in the driver's seat when it comes to introducing sensitive topics to our young children," said Rep. Michelle Davis, R-District 58.

The proposed law would ban human sexuality from being taught in kindergarten through third grade, something that's currently not happening right now in Indiana schools. 

Lawmakers who asked for a no vote on the bill said it would compromise the relationship teachers had with students. 

Part of the bill says teachers do not have to call a student by a name or pronoun if they're asking to use one that's different from their gender assigned at birth. Under HB 1608, if a student wanted to go by a different name or pronoun at school, their parents would have to give permission in writing at the beginning of the year. 

Teachers, like Rep. Tonya Pfaff, D-District 43, who teaches high school math, would also be required to tell parents if students asked to go by a different name or pronoun that didn't match their gender at birth. 

"I'm not comfortable with the position this bill will put me in," said Pfaff. 

Rep. Vernon Smith, D-District 14, also spoke against HB 1608, after the bill he authored on bullying got enough votes for a third reading. 

HB 1483 would require school officials to investigate a report of bullying and tell the victim's parents within three days, while telling the parents of the alleged perpetrator within five days. 

If the report is deemed true and severe enough, the school cooperation may transfer the victim or alleged perpetrator to another school in the district under certain circumstances.

Smith said he wrote HB 1483 after hearing from the kids who he mentors how their schools weren't doing enough to address bullying. 

"We're so busy schooling children for a test, that we're not teaching them how to co-exist with others and it takes some time," he said. "Children come here and they're blank slates. They learn everything from us."

Smith said he's hopeful HB 1483 will get enough votes on a third reading to make its way to the Senate for consideration. 

That's just what happened with HB 1608, which passed out of the House by a vote of 65-29.  

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