A Senate bill that targets discussion of race and gender in class curricula was removed from the Senate education committee’s agenda Wednesday. Even though the bill’s future is not certain, it can still come up in future committee meetings this session.
Senate Bill 386 would limit teachers from “promoting certain concepts” in areas such as age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, creed, color, marital status, familial status, mental or physical disability, religion or national origin. The legislation would create a way for parents to file a complaint with the school district over classroom instruction.
Following pushback over the bill, leaders did not hear it as scheduled during a Wednesday committee meeting.
Ed Feigenbaum is the editor of Indiana Legislative Insight – a publication focused on what is happening in state government and politics. He said bills typically do not come up on the Senate floor without support from the Republican caucus – indicating this bill may not have had that support.
“Most likely, within the caucus itself, the language just wasn't quite the way that they wanted before they had to vote on this,” he said.
Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues throughout the legislative session. And follow along with our bill tracker.
Feigenbaum said it is impossible to be fully certain why the bill wasn’t heard, but lawmakers may be negotiating to make the bill’s language better for all sides.
“It may be that the leadership and those that are working on the bill are trying to come up with the so-called sweet spot that would satisfy everybody's concerns, and that would ensure that there'd be enough votes on the floor to pass something like this,” he said.
He said it’s not clear whether this bill will come back to be heard.
In an email, bill author Sen. Jeff Raatz said he wants all children to be able to “thrive in the classroom” and wants to “continue having conversations about how best to achieve that.”
The Indiana State Teachers Association, one of the groups voicing discontent with the bill, said they are “encouraged” by the bill being removed from Wednesday’s agenda. The group said it also “stands united in opposition to SB 386 and all other divisive legislation based on this false national narrative about Indiana’s public schools.”
Raatz’s press secretary said the office “cannot confirm if the bill will be heard next week.”