Indiana Senate stock art

The Senate chamber in the Indiana Statehouse.

Doug Ross, The Times

INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosier teachers may soon be prohibited from instructing students in any way on human sexuality, including in biology and health courses, unless every student in the class has submitted a written consent form signed by a parent.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 37-13 Tuesday for Senate Bill 65, which changes the traditional parental opt-out for sex education into an opt-in before students are exposed to any teaching relating to sexual activity, sexual orientation or gender identity.

State Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, the sponsor, said teachers who stick to the state education standards should have no need to secure parental permission.

But he's heard there are "several places that are violating this" and a state law is necessary to rein them in.

"I have full confidence in our school administrators and our teachers and they'll be able to handle this and be able to do this," Kruse said. "I don't think they'll have any particular problems, any more than sending out forms for field trips."

Kruse repeatedly deflected questions by Democratic senators asking how teachers can cover topics such as the human reproductive system, sexual abuse, date rape and even poetry — as required by the state standards — without addressing sexuality.

"The way they're written in the standards there is no problem. It's when people get into further details, that aren't necessary in the area of human sexuality, you don't need to go into those unnecessary details," Kruse said.

"And what details are you talking about as being unnecessary?" asked state Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis.

"I don't feel comfortable even talking about them here," Kruse said from the front of the Senate chamber.

Kruse's proposal prompted state Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, to allege that it's being pushed by extreme interest groups "imposing their narrow religious morality on the rest of us."

"This isn't even about sex ed in this bill. This is about bigotry," Stoops said. "Look at the language in here: Prohibiting teachers from teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity.

"It's what driving these bills that have put Indiana on the forefront of basically embarrassing reactions by state government, where we deny rights to people and we decide that we can discriminate as a state."

The measure now advances to the Republican-controlled House.

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Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.