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Understanding House Bill 1134

The fight to extend parents’ rights in education

Chandler Walker

Staff Writer

April 22, 2022

House Bill 1134, which gave parents the ability to have approval over what is taught in the classroom, made its way to the Indiana Senate before being “killed” on February 28.

The bill would have banned several concepts labeled “divisive,” which were laid out in the bill as race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, or color. The language of the bill is being changed, however, which still gives it the chance to be passed under a different name. This would affect teachers in every school across the state, including Westfield, where many teachers are a part of clubs or teach classes that discuss these topics.

“I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to teach again,” Brandon Casburn, a Special Education teacher and sponsor of Westfield’s Black Student Association, shared.

Classes that focus on culture and cultural differences would be affected most by the bill, as it would either change the course of the class or get rid of it completely.

“While I obviously don't believe that teachers should be forcing their beliefs or interpretations on their students,” Ryan Collins, an Ethnic Literature teacher and sponsor of the Asian Student Union at Westfield said, “I also don't believe that teachers should teach in a cultural vacuum or that we should shelter students from ideas just because those ideas contradict or challenge preconceived beliefs.”

Similar to Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which limits discussions regarding sexual orientation from kindergarten to 3rd grade, House Bill 1134 focused on parental rights in education. Unlike the Florida Bill, however, House Bill 1134 did not make it past the Senate.

“I am glad that it was stopped because I believe parents should not have power over what is discussed in classrooms,” the vice president of Equity Club Issy Grady (11) said.

This bill is one of many that would increase parental control over and influence curriculum in schools. These bills have been subject to protests by students and teachers alike and have also gotten the attention of major brands such as Disney.

“We don’t need bills and legislation to determine the curriculum,” English teacher Jennifer Yoder said.

There is a worry that putting these bills in place will result in narrow-minded students who fail to consider other viewpoints, a dangerous mindset to both themselves and others.

“This kind of work is necessarily uncomfortable, but how can we ever arrive at a sharper and more nuanced understanding of each other and the world we live in if we don't

step outside of our comfort zone and see what others think?“ Collins said.

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