Did Indiana Really Try to Ban Teaching History?

Analyzing Indiana's SB 167 and HB 1041.
Photo: Indiana War Memorial

Dozens of claims from the ACLU, Stephen Colbert, the Indiana State Teachers Association, and other media & activists have claimed that SB 167 and HB 1134 in Indiana’s 2022 legislative session would have banned “teaching history”. CNN went so far as to claim SB 167 required teachers to be neutral on the history of Nazis.

The Chalkboard Review staff has taken the time to read every version of SB 167 & HB 1134—here is what we have found:

No language in either bill at any point during the amendments process forbids the teaching of any events, laws, policies, people, or additional historical data. Specifically, the eight (and later three) divisive concepts forbidden are instruction that praises or demeans any individual or group based on immutable characteristics—including race, gender, religion, nation of origin, and political affiliation.

Regarding political affiliation instruction, the bill states that while staff may outline the actions performed in the name of political affiliations (as it is objective historical instruction), staff may not communicate that any political faction is inherently “good or bad” based on the name alone.

Furthermore, specific language in both bills protect any historical atrocities from omission or censorship:

 Ergo, in the case of the claim that these bills would require teachers to be “neutral on Nazis”, this isn’t the case. Indiana academic standards require American & world history students to know the details of Nazi Germany’s rise to power, the atrocities they committed against multiple nationalities, ethnicities, and religious groups, and how those ideas have historically caused horrific results—not because they’re called “Nazis”, but because of what that ideology has believed & done via historical data.

Both bills were killed before a general House or Senate vote was called; SB 167 in mid-January, HB 1134 in late-February.

Chalkboard Review Staff
The Chalkboard Review Staff often collaborate on Read the Bill and report articles to ensure multiple perspectives and founded data points are presented.