116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — Koda Vratney, a transgender boy in the Linn-Mar Community School District, said he feels “sheer sadness” in response to a new Iowa law that bans transgender girls from competing in women’s sports.
Koda, 14, made the decision to be home-schooled this year after feeling unsafe at Linn-Mar High School because of his gender identity. He felt dehumanized, he said.
“I will always fight for myself,” Koda said.
But at a rally Friday at Linn-Mar High School to protest the law, Koda felt safe.
About 30 students showed up after school Friday in opposition to House File 2316, a bill banning transgender girls and women in Iowa from competing in sports according to their gender identity that was signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds last month.
Regulations proposed by the Education Department could make discrimination against transgender students a violation of federal civil rights law, creating opposition with the new Iowa state law.
Title IX bars discrimination on the basis of sex in education. The new rules — expected to be finalized this month — adds language to make it clear discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is included in this law.
Many Eastern Iowa school boards have passed resolutions in opposition to the law, including Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Linn-Mar.
The students led a call to action Friday, each one going to Kim Reynold’s Instagram page — a social media platform — to message her “We’re here, we’re queer — get used to it.”
Lucie Scott, 16, a sophomore at Linn-Mar High School, said it’s important for her to stand up for her beliefs.
“I was made this way,” said Scott, who describe herself as a queer woman.
Scott said it is hard to put in to words how the new Iowa law affects her as a member of the LGBTQ community, even though she isn’t a transgender girl.
A national survey last year by The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ people, on LGBTQ youth mental health found:
- 42 percent of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
- 94 percent of LGBTQ youth reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health.
- 75 percent of LGBTQ youth reported that they had experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity at least once in their lifetime.
- Half of all LGBTQ youth of color reported discrimination based on their race/ethnicity in the past year, including 67 percent of Black LGBTQ youth and 60 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander LGBTQ youth.
- LGBTQ youth who had access to spaces that affirmed their sexual orientation and gender identity reported lower rates of attempting suicide.
Iowa is not the only state to propose laws restricting the rights of people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
The governor of Florida signed in to law this week the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which limits instruction or classroom discussion about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer issues.
The governor of Texas wants hormone therapy for transgender kids to be classified as child abuse. The Texas Legislature tried to ban transgender kids from accessing puberty blockers, hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgeries. Two bills died in the 2021 legislative session.
These laws and proposed bills are harming the mental health of children in the LGBTQ community, the Linn-Mar students say.
The LGBTQ Iowa Archives & Library is celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 2, on the PS1 Close House lawn, 538 S. Gilbert St., Iowa City.
Transgender Day of Visibility is a celebration of the accomplishments and diversity of the transgender community, a recognition of the challenges they face, helps bring awareness to anti-transgender hate crimes, and honors of the memories of those hurt and killed by anti-transgender violence each year.
Participants are encouraged to bring signs, flags representing the LGBTQ community and their voices to speak out for transgender lives, particularly transgender girls in Iowa.
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