Indiana lawmakers debate sex education legislation

A committee hearing at the Indiana Statehouse considers measures that would force parents to decide whether students in public schools can participate in sex education classes. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — One state senator wants to give parents more control over their children attending sex education classes in public schools, and his bill is just steps away from becoming law.

Adam Baker, a state Department of Education spokesperson, said sex education is not required to be taught in Indiana schools. But, Baker said, Indiana code requires that if schools offer sex education, they must teach abstinence as the expected standard for all school-age children.

Some parents find it difficult to shield children from sex and sexuality. State Sen. Dennis Kruse said his bill would have parents of students in public K-12 schools to opt in with a permission form so their child can attend sexual education classes.

Kruse, a Republican from Auburn, said, “I think human sexuality is the one topic that would be the most important of many parents and they would say, ‘We would want to give our permission to have our child taught that.'”

On Monday, Kruse’s bill went before a conference committee to have some final details worked out.

Kruse said, “The House version, you send a form out, give them 30 days to opt in. Then, if a few have not responded, you give them another 10 days to opt-in again. Then the opt-out is the current House version. I would like that end to be opt-in, instead of opt-out.”

Some parents fiercely disagree with the opt-in option.

Judy Epp, a grandmother, said “I feel it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because oftentimes the children of families who don’t opt-in are the ones who need it.”

Epp said she and her family believe families who don’t opt-in would be missing out on education about different sexual orientations, genders and sex ed as a whole.

Jacob Balash, a father, said, “I think it should be education for all, and I think sex education should be taught in every class as well. I think education is never a problem. And if you have a differing opinion as a family member, I think you should educate your child at home, teaching your family values to them.”

The committee on Monday did not agree on a final measure for the House and Senate to consider.

This year’s legislative session is set to end Wednesday.