Just a few years after RFRA wreaked havoc on our state and its economy, Indiana lawmakers are at it again – proposing legislation that targets LGBTQ young people and prevents educators from creating safe and welcoming educational environments for all students. 

Senate Bill 65, which would limit instruction on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” in public schools, is so broadly worded that it could prevent schools from discussing any LGBTQ issues without express written permission from parents. 
 
By targeting a vulnerable group of young people and preventing educators from creating safe and responsive learning environments, Senate Bill 65 runs a real risk of violating Title IX and the Constitution and subjecting the state to costly litigation. 
 
Lawmakers should reject this unnecessary and discriminatory legislation and work together to support and protect all students.
 
Because the language of the bill is so broad, it could also be interpreted to limit the ability of educators to engage in any conversation with students about LGBTQ issues, chill educators from taking action to prevent bullying and harassment, and limit instruction regarding any gender difference, gender non-conformity or LGBTQ people altogether. 
 
In addition, by specifically prohibiting discussions of “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” without parental consent, Senate Bill 65 risks violating Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination as well as the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. 
 
Members of the Indiana House should stand with all Hoosiers and vote “no” on Senate Bill 65. 
 
 

Date

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 4:45pm

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Author:
Katie Blair

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Note: This column originally appeared in the Bloomington Herald Times
 

Forty-five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a woman’s right to abortion. The landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade recognized that women have a fundamental right to decide when and whether to have a child – without undue political interference. 

The unconscionable alternative, memorably portrayed in the novel and television series A Handmaid’s Tale, is allowing the government to force women to give birth against their will. 
 
Today, while seven out of 10 Americans oppose overturning Roe, attacks on women’s reproductive rights have continued unabated, and here in Indiana they’ve intensified. Indiana politicians who pledge to make government smaller and less intrusive on the campaign trail are all too eager once elected to barge right into the exam room and intrude on a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions.
 
Fortunately women have two potent means of defending their constitutional rights: the courts and the power of collective action – and they’re using both to prevent A Handmaid’s Tale from becoming a reality in the Hoosier State. 
 
In 2016, a federal judge in Indiana blocked one of the most extreme and restrictive anti-abortion laws in the country from taking effect. HEA 1337 would have imposed unprecedented, unconstitutional restrictions on women seeking abortions and their health care providers. Filing two lawsuits on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK), the ACLU of Indiana challenged multiple provisions of this unconstitutional law and have so far been successful in protecting women’s access to reproductive health services. On February 15, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit will hear oral arguments in the case as we continue to fight to strike down this law for good.  
 
Last year we also succeeded in blocking another unconstitutional abortion law, SEA 404, which imposed draconian requirements on physicians and threatened the health, safety, and privacy of young women seeking abortions.
 
On the national level, the courts have served as an essential bulwark against the extreme and unconstitutional policies of the Trump-Pence administration. Last year, a federal court in Pennsylvania preliminarily blocked President Trump’s attempt to allow businesses to refuse to cover contraception. And courts in the District of Columbia have twice ordered the Trump administration to stop obstructing access to abortion for teenagers in federal immigration custody.
 
But the courts aren’t the only weapon we have in the battle for women’s reproductive rights. 
 
Over the past year, women of all ages, races, and backgrounds have stepped up and used the power of collective action to defend reproductive rights in their communities. Recognizing that reproductive rights are essential to the overall wellbeing of women in every other sphere, these freedom fighters are lighting up phone lines, talking to their neighbors, and running for office themselves. 
 
Thousands have signed up to be part of the ACLU’s new grassroots mobilization platform, PeoplePower, which is channeling this groundswell of activism into concrete progress at the local level. Together, they are helping to throw a wrench in the divisive Trump-Pence agenda and protect access to abortion – with women leading the way.  
 
Elected officials and those vying to serve in 2018 should take note. 
 
A half-century after Roe v. Wade, abortion rights are under greater threat than ever before – but women are in a stronger position than ever to defend them. 

Date

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 3:00pm

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