Senate committee approves sex education permission slips

By Amari Thompson
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS—Legislation that would require parents to grant permission to teach their children about human sexuality passed 9-1 in an Indiana Senate committee Wednesday.

Senate Bill 65, authored by Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, amends a more than two-decade old statute on how Hoosiers students are taught about sex.

In the 1995 bill, school corporations must send home permission slips to all parents when involving evaluations, analysis or surveys given to the students.

SB 65 adds an additional provision to the student and parental rights bill by requiring permission slips for “instructional” materials on human sexuality,

Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, worried that adding the word “instructional” into the 1995 law would change the original intent.

“I just want to make sure everyone knows what we are dealing with,” Leising said. “Because instruction of a student is different than analysis, evaluation, or survey. Instruction means I am educating them.”

The Senate Education and Career Development Committee heard testimony on the measure a week ago on whether if parents should opt in or opt out human sexuality courses.

The majority of the parents at the hearing wanted to opt in, meaning they would give their permission for children to be in human sexuality classes. Opting out means the child would be in the class unless the parent says no.

The parents testified that teaching their child sex education was their responsibility and many stated that they were uninformed on what their child is being taught in school.

“As a principal I think logistically the opt-in policy would be a very massive thing to undertake,” Tim McRoberts, representative for Indiana Principal Association said.

School associations such as Indiana School Board Association, Indiana State Teachers Association and Indiana Association of School Principals all said they are in support of giving parents’ classroom materials. However, they object to requiring students to turn in permission slips before they are allowed in human sexuality classes.

Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington said parents should take an opt-out approach—meaning parents should withdraw their student from the sex education class if the parents do not approve.

“I am sure, that most, if not all, are opt-out policies. I don’t know of any schools who have an opt-in policy for this type of situation,” said McRoberts.

Stoops Wednesday proposed an amendment to change the bill into an opt-out situation, but it was defeated.

The bill now moves to the Senate floor for action.

Amari Thompson is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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