This editorial board did not exactly have high hopes for the 2021 Iowa Legislature, but we didn’t expect it to be as bad as it’s been.
We suspected Republicans in control of state government would take a hands-off approach to the COVID-19 pandemic and continue their campaign to cut taxes. What we weren’t prepared for, however, was the flood of bills targeting LGBTQ Iowans.
Republicans have taken up petty and hateful proposals before, but they’re coming at an alarming rate in a unique year where public input at the Capitol is limited. Lawmakers seem to be especially concerned about transgender and gender-nonconforming young people in Iowa.
This week, an Iowa Senate subcommittee advanced a bill that would restrict information about gender identity in school curriculum. The GOP-sponsored bill would require schools to get parental approval before offering such lessons.
As Keenan Crow, policy director for One Iowa, told lawmakers this week, “everyone has a gender identity, not just transgender people.”
One Iowa is tracking 14 anti-LGBTQ bills. They would impose additional restrictions on education about sex and gender, require schools to notify parents if students request alternative pronouns, regulate health care for trans youth and bar trans athletes from competition.
Such bills are intimidating to Iowans and give cover to ignorance. Legislative leaders should swat them down before they’re even considered.
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Quite literally, the government is trying to peer into our underpants. Just look to Georgia, where lawmakers are considering a bill to create a panel of physicians to examine girls’ genitals before they can compete in sports.
We can’t help but wonder if Republicans feel emboldened by the circumstances in the Statehouse this year. The COVID-19 pandemic is much worse now than it was last year when lawmakers prematurely suspended the session. Nevertheless, legislative leaders have not provided significant safety precautions in the Capitol, nor have they built up a robust system for Iowans to participate remotely. Many Iowans don’t feel safe visiting Des Moines to advocate.
The power of public pressure is real, and we have seen in previous years how passionate constituents in the Statehouse can force a bill out of consideration. This year, though, lawmakers can pass legislation without having to face many of the constituents their bills would affect.
Iowa lawmakers would do well to mind their own genitals and leave trans kids alone.
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