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Moms for Liberty is now in charge at the Iowa Statehouse
Last week, at an event hosted by Moms for Liberty, a group pushing to remove what it considers “obscene” or objectionable books from school libraries and curriculum, Gov. Kim Reynolds proclaimed that if a book is banned by one Iowa school district, it should be banned in all districts.
By this week, her staff modified the governor’s position. On Monday, they said books banned in one district would still be available in other districts, but only with written permission from parents.
That same day, five members of Moms for Liberty testified before the House Government Oversight Committee. The parents cherry-picked the most explicit passages from a list of books, most written by LGBTQ authors and people of color. They complained about the obstacles they faced in seeking to remove or restrict access to the books.
Some Republicans on the panel suggested that books should be rated like movies. We’d love to hear who will be in charge of that ratings system.
Republicans who control the Legislature also are considering bills that would create a process through which students and parents can report educators who violate a state law against teaching divisive concepts, such as institutional racism and how slavery shaped the nation’s history. They’re seeking to restrict the teaching of LGBTQ concepts in elementary and middle schools. Republicans are pursuing a bill that would force educators to inform parents if a student is transgender or is questioning their gender.
It’s clear where all of this is heading, should these measures become law. Our public schools will be shackled by authoritarian, politically motivated edicts intended to dictate what hundreds of thousands of Iowa students can and can’t learn in school. State actions that historically have been aimed at improving public schools will be used instead to narrow their educational missions to please a minority of outraged parents whose complaints are being elevated by Republican politicians eager to attack public schools.
It’s called “parents’ rights,” but the rights are only for parents who agree with Moms for Liberty.
We don’t need state lawmakers to intervene in local disputes over books. There are processes in place locally to challenge books. Just because banning a book is not easy does not mean the local process is flawed. And one school district’s decision should not affect other school districts.
Teachers should not have to face state retribution for teaching accurate, unflinching American history. Nor should teachers be mandatory informants when kids seek support. Curtailing LGBTQ curriculum sends the message that our state leaders believe the lives of our fellow Iowans are somehow shameful. It’s a reckless and dishonest message.
Republicans should set aside these irresponsible measures and get back to the job Iowans expect them to do. And that’s improving public schools while respecting the rights and liberties of all Iowa students and families.
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