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Senate committee hears parental rights bill. Author says it's in response to concerns about schools

Senator Liz Brown is White woman with white blonde hair. She sits behind a table with a laptop on a stand and a microphone, as she takes notes while listening to testimony.
Lauren Chapman
/
IPB News
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne) said she authored SB 46 in response to concerns that schools are withholding information from parents about their children.

A Senate committee heard testimony on a parental rights bill Wednesday, creating an avenue for parents to sue “governmental entities” if they’ve been substantially burdened. Those governmental entities include schools, the Department of Child Services, and their employees.

Parents can sue if they believe their ability to direct their child’s upbringing, religious instruction, education or health care has been “substantially burdened.” And they can sue if they believe the governmental entity has withheld or directed their child to withhold information from the parent.

The bill’s author, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne), said she authored Senate Bill 46 largely because of concerns that schools are withholding information from parents about their children.

“I would rather see our schools getting back to the way – I would like them to think they would want to be – and work with parents to say, ‘your child is having an issue, how can we help, you know, help them?’” Brown said.

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When asked about LGBTQ+ students who come out to their teachers and may ask that their parents aren’t informed, Brown said teachers should facilitate those conversations.

“Teachers are not–there is no attorney-client privilege, let’s just be clear,” Brown said. “Aren’t we just exacerbating the problem then?”

The bill places the burden of proof on the governmental entities being sued.

The committee held the bill, hoping to address concerns about qualified immunity.

Lauren is our digital editor. Contact her at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

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Lauren is the digital editor for our statewide collaboration, and is based in Indianapolis at WFYI. Since starting for IPB News in 2016, she's covered everything from protests and COVID-19 to esports and policy. She's a proud Ball State University alumna and grew up on the west side of Indianapolis.