116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Gov. Kim Reynolds’ push to ban transgender students in Iowa from playing on girls’ sports teams is irresponsible and reprehensible. It should be rejected and condemned.
Reynolds would have Iowa, a state with a proud record of being ahead of the curve on matters of civil rights, emulate states such as Florida, Mississippi and Arkansas, states with a shameful record on protecting the rights of minorities. She offers no compelling arguments for doing so. And she unveiled her support for a ban during a Fox News appearance, suggesting this more about raising the governor’s political profile than making good policy for Iowa.
During a news conference Wednesday, Reynolds repeatedly argued that she’s pursuing a ban as a matter of “fairness.” She suggested that allowing transgender athletes to play would be the end of girls’ sports. This is, of course, nonsense.
Gender identity has been protected by the Iowa Civil Rights Act for 14 years. The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union adopted guidelines for allowing transgender girls to participate in girls’ high school teams in 2015. Individual school districts already are navigating these issues without another edict from a governor who seems to abhor local control.
Asked Wednesday whether she could cite any examples in Iowa of why such legislation is needed, she could not provide any. Has she talked with any transgender Iowans about these issues? The governor couldn’t say.
That’s because this is pure politics. The governor is seeking to cater to the Republican Party’s culture warriors here and across the nation. She’s simply checking off all the misguided red state policy boxes. Make it harder to vote? Check. Target low-income Iowans with new, callous regulations and restrictions? Check. Dump on transgender kids? Check.
The governor talks of sports only in terms of competition and scholarships. But high school athletics also are supposed to be about education, teaching student athletes about teamwork, discipline and working toward a goal. These are lessons that transcend the playing field.
But Reynolds would cut off access to that education for transgender girls. There’s no “fairness” in that. It’s discrimination, fueled by partisan scare tactics.
A sports ban bill filed earlier in the session died when it failed to meet legislative deadlines. So now we must wait and watch for Reynolds’ late session push to pop up during the final hours of the Legislative session, likely as an amendment to another bill. Instead of going through the normal, public lawmaking process, we may see yet another sneak attack on Iowans as lawmakers head for the door.
Reynolds should abandon her quest for political accolades at the expense of children. And lawmakers must reject this latest attempt to damage Iowa’s reputation as a place where civil rights matter more than petty, spiteful politics.
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