April 3, 2023

Steve Hinnefeld: ‘Culture war’ bills target people

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Steve Hinnefeld reminds us that the “culture war” actually involves real live human beings.

They call it a culture war, but it’s not culture that’s under attack. Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly have declared war on real people: teachers, librarians, students and, especially, trans kids and their families. They’re the ones who will be harmed if legislators get their way.

He goes on to look at three bills passed in Indiana that attack the rights of actual humans. For example:

House Bill 1608 is Indiana’s answer to Florida Gov. Ron DeSanitis’ “don’t say gay” law, but with anti-trans variations. The first part is simple: It bans any instruction on human sexuality for students in grades K-3.

The second part requires teachers to only refer to students by names and pronouns that are consistent with their assigned sex at birth, regardless of the students’ preference. And if any students should ask to change their “name, pronoun, title or other word to identify the student that is inconsistent with the student’s sex,” the school would have to notify parents.

I’m sympathetic to the idea that schools should keep parents informed about what’s going on with their children. But this is a sensitive area, and schools should have the flexibility to act in the best interest of their students. As ACLU staff attorney Harper Seldin writes, transgender youth face a real risk of rejection and even abuse by the adults who are supposed to care for them.

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