INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A state lawmaker is again proposing to block taxpayer money from schools that discriminate against LGBTQ+ students or employees. The move comes after several Catholic school employees in Indianapolis lost their jobs over their same-sex marriages.
Jennifer McCormick, Indiana’s Republican superintendent of public instruction, joined Democratic State Sen. J.D. Ford at the statehouse Friday to share in their support for the proposed bill. Ford filed the proposal on Friday. “We need to be inclusive of everyone in Indiana,” said McCormick.
McCormick stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Democratic State Sen. J.D. Ford Friday, as he announced his anti-discrimination in schools bill. “This is something I truly believe in,” said McCormick. “I have family members who identify as LGBTQ.” Ford’s bill aims to stop schools that receive taxpayer money from discriminating against students, teachers and staff.
“This bill will allow for the opportunity for complaints to be made to the Department of Education. The Department of Education would investigate that complaint. If it’s founded, then the school would lose taxpayer dollars for the following year,” said Ford. “They’d have the ability to regain good status and get their taxpayer dollars back, once they have proven they’re not discriminating against students and staff.”
Ford, who is Indiana’s first openly gay state lawmaker, points to former Roncalli High School counselor Shelly Fitzgerald as an example. Fitzgerald claims she lost her job because of her same-sex marriage.
“Somebody turned in her marriage certificate. That right there, being placed on administrative leave simply because of who you are,” said Ford.
According to McCormick, Indiana’s LGBTQ+ students are five times more likely to try to commit suicide.
Dominic Conover, 18, is a 2019 Roncalli graduate.
“If it is passed, the effects are going to be astronomical. To see LGBTQ+ protected in both public and now private schools,” said Conover, who is serving as the president of the student-run advocacy group Shelly’s Voice.
Ford told News 8 he proposed a similar bill last session, but it did not get a hearing, meaning it didn’t go anywhere. He tells me he feels like he has a real shot this time, because it’s a short session. And, he has more experience as a state lawmaker.
The 2020 legislative session begins Monday.