Over the past several months, gender identity and the use of school bathrooms and locker rooms has been a hot topic across the country. As these conversations have been happening, I have heard many people voice their opinions on this subject — particularly within House District 58.
It is important that we listen to all sides of the discussion as we move forward.
Under new guidelines set by the Obama administration, schools must now allow students who identify as transgender the option to use the bathroom and locker room that matches their gender identity, not their biological sex.
Failure to comply, according to the guidelines, could result in the school’s revocation of federal funding under Title IX. This is an example of extreme federal overreach from Washington, D.C. With these strings attached, their guidelines feel more like requirements and less like suggestions.
I want to be perfectly clear that no one should ever feel they are being discriminated against. Personally, I do not believe schools should allow young children to choose a bathroom or locker room that does not match their biological sex.
Keeping children safe while they are at school is a top priority for me, and I believe that schools are capable of ensuring the safety of their students without federal intrusion.
Decisions of this magnitude should be made at the state and local level by people who will put the best interest of our children ahead of political ideology. Already, Indiana school boards have proven that they can appropriately address and handle these decisions.
Each school and district is unique. No one knows this better than local school leaders and educators. In making accommodations, they can exercise appropriate judgement and compassion on a case-by-case basis, not adhering to blanket, one-size-fits-all mandates from the federal government.
The Center Grove Community School Corp. Board of School Trustees recently conducted a public forum to get input from the community on these federal guidelines. It is encouraging to see schools having an open, respectful dialogue with parents and community members to ensure the most appropriate decision is made for their students. I hope to see more schools do this before making any decision that affects everyone in the school.
Fortunately, U.S. Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana has taken steps to prevent schools from having their federal funding revoked — our tax dollars — if they choose not to adhere to these strict guidelines. Last month, Messer introduced the PUBLIC School Act (Prohibiting the Usurpation of Bathroom Laws through Independent Choice School Act).
Under this proposal, schools — not the federal government — would be able to make decisions regarding gender identity and the use of school bathrooms and locker rooms. If a school chooses not to comply with federal guidelines, they would not lose their federal dollars. I fully support Messer’s proposal to protect the rights of Hoosier schools to make the best decisions for their students.
Many people have asked what I can do as a state representative to address this topic. Indiana has a part-time legislature, meaning we only meet during the first few months out of the year to pass laws. However, in the coming months, interim study committees will begin meeting to discuss a variety of issues.
The Interim Study Committee on Courts and the Judiciary has been assigned the topic of civil rights related to gender identity and sexual orientation. If this topic is heard, I believe there will be a thorough, productive and respectful conversation.
Moving forward, I encourage you to reach out to me to share your thoughts on this topic. I take the opinions of my constituents very seriously, and knowing where you stand on issues such as this helps me make decisions that impact not only our community, but the entire state as well. You may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-232-9648.