Crazy, but that's how it goes

So, for several days recently, Iowans were uncertain whether the "Governors" would remain in the "7th Annual Iowa Governors Conference on LGBTQ Youth."

Members of the socially conservative, but all-caps liberal, "The FAMILY LEADER" claimed that a Gov. Terry Branstad staffer told them that the guv would totally seek to have his title removed from the title of the event. That made those family leaders happy.

Then, the governor said that the governor's conference would indeed remain the governor's conference. He even wrote a letter to the director of Iowa Safe Schools, which is putting on the conference:

Dear Mr. Monson,

As you know, I am regrettably not able to attend your upcoming conference because of a scheduling conflict. However, I support the conference and its goalof eliminating bullying and making Iowa schools safe for all students. I do not object to you including the word "Governor's" in the conference title in keeping with the historical name and the emphasis on its importance to Iowa schools.

As you know, I have already officially proclaimed September 1 "Safe Schools Day." I hope that in my absence, you will read that proclamation to conference attendees.

You have my very best wishes for a successful conference this year and in future years.


Terry E. Branstad


Good job out of you, governor.

But I suppose the family leaders might not be so happy now. Upset even. Yep, just a little:


Pleasant Hill, IA — The FAMILY LEADER learned this week that Governor Branstad has approved the use of the word “Governor’s” as part of the title of the upcoming 7th Annual Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning) Youth.

This is an obvious change in his position. On January 18th, a spokesman for Governor Branstad’s office told The FAMILY LEADER that the administration was planning to contact event coordinators and request the exclusion of the word “Governor’s” from the Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth. The FAMILY LEADER publicly complimented the Governor’s action via an email alert.

Last week, The FAMILY LEADER learned the Governor has changed his stance by sending a letter of support to conference personnel saying, “I support the conference and its goal of eliminating bullying and making Iowa schools safe for all students. I do not object to you including the word ‘Governor’s’ in the conference title.” Governor Branstad also said, “You have my very best wishes for a successful conference this year and in future years.” Through this letter, Branstad voices his full support of the mission of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning agenda through his high praise and the lending of his official title, “Governor”, to their conference.

Bob Vander Plaats, President and CEO of The FAMILY LEADER, says, “Governor Branstad needs to be held accountable for his support of this conference and the promotion of a very radical and dangerous left-wing agenda.”

As a former teacher, coach, and high school principal, Vander Plaats reiterated his and The FAMILY LEADER’s opposition to harassment and bullying of any type within a school setting. Bob remarked, “Effective leaders in education provide safe learning environments. However, effective educational leaders also lead with a focus on academic achievement versus agenda acceleration. It is greatly disappointing and, frankly, disturbing that Branstad and his administration have chosen to be puppets to a far-left agenda versus being effective educational leaders.”

According to the conference website (, the mission of the Annual Iowa Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth is to a) engage and educate students, educators, parents, community leaders, youth-serving professionals, policy makers, and others concerned about issues relevant to the LGBTQ community, and b) encourage networking and activism to inspire our communities to promote diversity, equality, and social justice. The website also claims goals of eliminating bullying in Iowa schools and creating leadership opportunities for LGBTQ youth.

According to the event’s website, about half of the attendees are students. The FAMILY LEADER is particularly disturbed by some of the components of the Governor’s Conference noting that special bathroom instructions are provided in the conference FAQ’s saying “transgender friendly restrooms will be available for the gender any individual identifies with”. Parents can only conclude that their teenage daughter may well be sharing a restroom with a male who “identifies” as a female. Also troubling is the fact that exhibitors are allowed to distribute condoms and/or safe sex kits.

The FAMILY LEADER does not support LGBTQ behavior and believes that a conference of this nature approves, promotes, and accelerates this behavior among students. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “men who have sex with men and people exposed through high-risk heterosexual contact account for 82% of all HIV/AIDS cases diagnosed in 2006”. Therefore, The FAMILY LEADER concludes that this conference is encouraging dangerous and unhealthy behavior while claiming to “provide a safe and supportive place in which to learn” as stated on their website.

The sponsors of the conference include the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA), the Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB), Aviva, and Rockwell Collins. The FAMILY LEADER assumes that taxpayer dollars are indirectly being used to support the conference since school districts use taxpayer money for ISBA dues and ISEA is comprised of members whose salaries are paid with public funds.

Vander Plaats commented on the irony of Branstad’s support for a left-wing agenda while former Iowa governors, Vilsack and Culver, chose to remove their title of “Governor” from the annual Governor’s Prayer Breakfast. “Vilsack and Culver had no problem upsetting the conservative base when they removed their title from a prayer breakfast, while Branstad surrendered to political pressure and abandoned his alleged conservative principles.” “Leaders …. lead,” expressed Vander Plaats, “Branstad caved.”

Branstad was asked today about his new role as a far-left puppet:

“I can’t help but laugh at that,” Branstad told reporters this morning, after he and his staff laughed when a reporter read Vander Plaats’ statement aloud. “I’m not a puppet to anybody. He knows better than that.”

The governor's right. The Family Leader statement should come with a laugh track.

I particularly love the obligatory expression of "opposition to harassment or bullying of any type within a school setting." That's so thoughtful.

And it's pretty rich, considering that much of the rest of the statement is spent outlining reasons why our family leaders believe strongly that these kids are a danger to society that should be shunned and feared. Yeah, I think dropping a righteous green flag on discrimination and marginalization over and over again really emphasizes your opposition to bullying and harrassment.

Actually, what's "greatly disappointing and, frankly, disturbing" is that these guys don't seem to see any connection between what they preach and what these kids too often reap.

I think, to his credit, the governor understands that. And I'm glad he decided to become a "puppet" instead of a family leader.

But, this episode is also a nice reminder that when this crowd tries to argue that its crusade against marriage equity is all about Iowans' "right to vote," it's stuff like this that shows that it's not really about voting at all.

Like what you're reading?

We make it easy to stay connected:

to our email newsletters
Download our free apps

Give us feedback

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Tell us here.
Do you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.