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Iowa kids aren’t buying the red state agenda
Individual acts of civil disobedience can be more powerful than a protest drawing hundreds of people, especially now when social media can deliver the message to a massive audience.
That’s what happened Sunday when three Iowa high school seniors received recognition for being Governor’s Scholars, which included getting a photo taken with Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg.
One student, identified as Newton senior Leo Friedman by the Des Moines Register, walked on stage wearing T-shirt proclaiming, “I Read Banned Books.” Another Newton Senior, identified by the Register as Marin Pettigrew, sported a shirt that said, “Public Money for Public Schools.”
Davenport West senior Clementine Springsteen, a transgender woman who wore a transgender flag tie to the ceremony, shook Reynolds’ and Gregg’s hands and paused for the photo. Then, as she began to walk away, Springsteen shouted “Trans rights are human rights!”
Fact check: True.
The governor has signed bills denying gender-affirming care to transgender kids, even with parental permission, and barring them from using bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity. She has pushed for banning books and transferring hundreds of millions of dollars in public money to private schools.
She had little reaction to the students. But Reynolds didn’t look as pleased as her photo on those anti-trans koozies.
Of course, within hours, videos of the students were everywhere.
But there have also been some of those big protests. In March, hundreds of students in more than 40 Iowa school districts walked out of classes to protest Republicans anti LGBTQ agenda. Last month, dozens of students came to the Capitol to protest a bill that would permit guns secured in vehicles in school parking lots.
So what’s up with these kids? Don’t they know these bills are supposed to keep them safe and protect their innocence?
Well, these kids aren’t buying it. For one thing, they know what’s happening in their schools far better than the governor, GOP lawmakers and even their parents. They know their transgender classmates are not a threat. They know that school shootings are.
They know their teachers are not focused on sinister liberal indoctrination or any of the other crackpot caricatures of public education created by Reynolds her allies.
Those are culture war relics created and clung to by older Iowans fearful of the future. But the future belongs to these kids, and they’re not interested in old fears. They’re going to live in the real world, not the fake one conjured up by conservatives to win elections and grab power.
It’s too bad they may not live in Iowa. Republicans are burning up the state’s future with their fire and brimstone agenda. Many will want to work in jobs that are shaping the economy now, for companies that won’t be interested in locating in a state where diverse talent can’t be found, and where some of its employees don’t feel safe.
But maybe some of these kids will stay and continue to remind us that marching backward isn’t going to get us where we need to go. Hate will not make Iowa great. They’ll keep sending that message any way they can. And we need to listen.
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