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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Republicans who control the Iowa Legislature are pushing ahead with bills that would prohibit schools from mentioning the reality of LGBTQ Iowans in curriculum and forcing school staff to inform parents if a student is transgender, even if the student resists disclosure. These bill should be rejected.
House File 8 prohibits any curriculum lessons or classroom materials that mention sexual orientation or gender identity for students grades K-3. SF 83 would ban material and lessons discussing gender identity through eighth grade. It’s similar to Florida’s infamous “don’t say gay” law.
House File 9 bans schools from declining to inform parents if a student is transgender. School staff cannot willfully withhold that information and districts cannot offer support policies to transgender students without written permission from parents.
We would hope most transgender students feel comfortable sharing information with their parents, but we’re not naive enough to expect that’s always the case. A student clearly knows their home situation better than school officials and certainly state lawmakers. Outing a student before they are ready can lead to serious consequences. We wonder if lawmakers are willing to own the harm this legislation might cause to already marginalized kids.
Turning school staff into mandatory informers denies transgender students a support system at school. We know suicide rates are high among trans students, and that having even one supportive adult in their lives can cut the rate of suicides. Do lawmakers really want to put transgender kids in danger simply to score political points with their conservative supporters?
Prohibiting the mention of sexual orientation or gender identity flies in the face of anti-bullying policies that must include rules against bullying and harassing LGBTQ students. How can students learn about these policies if teachers are under a gag order dictating that they not address the reality of students these policies are designed to protect?
These bills clearly are intended to cause a chilling effect in Iowa’s public schools with regard to including the existence of LGBTQ Iowans in lessons. They’re meant to send a message that being LGBTQ is wrong, threating and a subject to be avoided. The truth is LGBTQ Iowans are students in our classrooms, teachers in our schools, our neighbors, family and friends.
And what sort of educational system denies students the opportunity to learn about the world as it exists, not as some politicized facsimile conjured from a desire to discriminate and deny the humanity of people who live in our communities? It’s not the education Iowa kids deserve.
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