Iowa governor signs education bill filled with anti-LGBTQ+ policies

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), transgender youth, gender-affirming care, bathroom bill, school, queer, LGBTQ
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) Photo: Shutterstock

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) has signed an education bill that includes several anti-LGBTQ+ policies.

S.F. 496 bans instruction on LGBTQ+ identities through sixth grade and requires schools to out trans youth to their parents. It also bans all books containing sex acts from school classrooms and libraries, which will undoubtedly lead to the banning of several LGBTQ+ books.

And despite the fact that Iowa has already banned gender-affirming care for trans youth, the bill explicitly establishes that parents and guardians have “the fundamental, constitutionally protected right, to make decisions affecting [their] child, including decisions related to the minor child’s medical care….”

The section clarifies that it does not authorize parents and guardians to “engage in conduct that is unlawful,” and as such, parents of trans youth still do not have the right to seek gender-affirming care for their kids.

Democrats and LGBTQ+ rights groups have blasted the bill.

“We need all Iowa trans kids to know, LGBTQ kids to know, that you belong here,” House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst (D), reportedly said as the legislative session came to a close.

After Reynold’s signed the bill, the Iowa Senate Democrats tweeted that the law seeks to “ban books and marginalize kids just because they’re different.”

“Censorship and singling out LGBTQ Iowans is wrong for kids, and wrong for our state,” the tweet concluded.

Courtney Reyes, the executive director of One Iowa, said in a statement that the law “will harm an already vulnerable group of children and will benefit no one.”

The bill was part of a slate of education bills signed by Reynolds last week. In a statement, she said the state has “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.” 

“Education is the great equalizer and everyone involved – parents, educators, our children – deserves an environment where they can thrive,” she said.

Reynolds has made her anti-trans views a cornerstone of her tenure. She has also made “parental control” a centerpiece of her public messaging, claiming a far-left “woke” agenda is threatening the health and well-being of the state’s children.

While campaigning for reelection in 2022, she aired a TV spot highlighting what she called her values of faith, freedom, and hard work.

“Here in Iowa,” she declared, “we know right from wrong, boys from girls.”

At the end of March this year, Reynolds signed two bills targeting trans youth. One forbids minors from accessing puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy and forces trans teens currently receiving gender-affirming care to de-transition. It also threatens the professional licenses of any medical practitioners who provide such care. Studies show that gender-affirming care is safe, reversible, and essential to trans people’s overall well-being.

The other prohibits people from using school restrooms that don’t correspond with the gender a person was assigned at birth.

Last year, Reynolds also signed an anti-trans sports ban.

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