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Iowa governor signs bill limiting LGBTQ education

The bill signed Friday was among several pieces of recent legislation targeting LGBTQ students and certain library books.

(CN) — Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds on Friday signed into law a half-dozen bills related to public education, including a provision that bars teaching related to gender identity and sexual orientation through sixth grade, a ban on books describing sex acts, and a requirement for schools to inform parents if their child asks to be identified by a different pronoun.

The governor, who has championed legislation this session pushing back on support for LGBTQ rights, praised the Republican-dominated Iowa Legislature for enacting several provisions in the recently ended session – including banning gender-affirming care to transgender minors, prohibiting female transgender students from participating in girls sports, and barring students from using school bathrooms that do not alight with their gender identity.

At the bill signing at a private event Friday, Reynolds characterized the bills as empowering parents.

“This legislative session, we secured transformational education reform that puts parents in the driver's seat, eliminates burdensome regulations on public schools, provides flexibility to raise teacher salaries, and empowers teachers to prepare our kids for their future,” she said in a public statement. “Education is the great equalizer and everyone involved – parents, educators, our children – deserves an environment where they can thrive.” 

Every Democrat in the Iowa Legislature voted against the LGBTQ teaching ban in the recently adjourned legislative session. Keenan Crow, director of policy and advocacy for the LGBTQ rights group One Iowa, said of Reynolds: “Like many other pieces of her agenda, this legislation punches down on vulnerable group of kids, and it benefits no one.”

Iowa’s largest education union signaled its disappointment with the governor’s action Friday.

“Today, with her veto power, Governor Reynolds had an opportunity to support the thousands of great education professionals who work hard to educate, support, and elevate the students in their care,” Iowa State Education Association President Mike Beranek said in a statement. “She chose not to exercise this power, and instead, cemented laws that are designed to intimidate, censor, and harm the educators and students who work in and attend our public schools.”

The bill signed by Reynolds on Friday, Senate File 496, says that a public school “shall not provide any program, curriculum, test, survey, questionnaire, promotion, or instruction relating to gender identity or sexual orientation to students in kindergarten through grade six.”

The legislation says that if a student asks to be identified by a name or pronoun that is different than the name or pronoun assigned to the student in the school district’s registration forms or records, the school administrator must report the student’s request to the student’s parent or guardian.

It also says school libraries shall contain only “age-appropriate materials” that do not include descriptions or visual depictions of a sex act.

In addition, the bill removes a requirement that school health curriculums include information regarding HPV and HIV/AIDS.

Categories:Civil Rights, Education, Government, Politics, Regional

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