Iowa may limit gender identity, sexual orientation teachings

Apr 21, 2023, 8:12 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa lawmakers have passed a sweeping education bill limiting instruction on removing books depicting sex acts.

The Senate approved the bill Wednesday night and the House passed it Thursday, the Des Moines Register reported. It now goes to Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds for her signature.

“Parents are the ultimate decisionmakers for their children. This legislation defines parents’ rights in law, requires transparency, and sets boundaries to protect Iowa’s children from woke indoctrination,” Reynolds said in an emailed statement to the Register. “I will always fight for Iowa’s parents as they know what is best for their children.”

Instruction related to gender identity or sexual orientation is banned in kindergarten through sixth grade. That provision, along with the requirement to notify parents if a student asks the school to use new pronouns, would take effect July 1. The ban on books depicting sex acts would be effective Jan. 1.

The bill would codify that parents have the “fundamental, constitutionally protected right” to make decisions for children under the age of 18.

“It is wrong for schools to keep secrets from parents about their kids. It is wrong to push political agendas in the classroom. And it is wrong to put pornography in front of children,” Republican Rep. Skyler Wheeler said.

If a teacher or administrator fails to inform parents when a student asks to use new pronouns, or if a school employee withholds information from parents about a student’s gender identity, the teacher or the school district could be disciplined by the board of educational examiners.

Democrats say the required parental notification of a pronoun change could threaten the safety of some transgender kids, if their families are not supportive.

“You want parents’ rights, but only when it is in things you believe in,” said Rep. Sue Cahill. “I’ve said it before and I’ll ask it again: Where are my rights? Where are the rights of other parents who don’t agree with you?”

The provision banning books with descriptions or visual depictions of sex acts has an exception for religious books, including the Bible, the Torah and the Koran. The bill also exempts materials for human growth and development classes.

The Iowa Department of Education and the Board of Educational Examiners would be responsible for disciplining superintendents or employees if a school refuses to remove a book that contains sex acts.

“I’m not sure what the perfect solution is to this,” House Speaker Pat Grassley said. “We felt that this was the best way to approach it, so that way it wasn’t an individual picking of books.”

Democrats said the ban amounts to censorship.

“The majority party wishes to ban some of the greatest literary works of all time, because it offends or challenges their world view,” Sen. Molly Donahue said.

Republican Sen. Brad Zaun said the law is not a book ban since parents can still choose which books their kids can read outside of school.

United States News

FILE - Sections of a USA Today newspaper are displayed Aug. 5, 2019, in Norwood, Mass. Journalists ...

Associated Press

Journalists to strike June 5 at the largest US newspaper chain

Journalists across the U.S. will walk off their jobs next week at roughly two dozen newsrooms run by Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the U.S., their union said Thursday. The mostly one-day strike, which will start June 5, aims to protest Gannett’s leadership and cost-cutting measures imposed since its 2019 merger with GateHouse Media. […]

18 hours ago

Sen. Fred Mills asks a question to members of The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Servi...

Associated Press

Bill to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youths in Louisiana resurrected

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Amid mounting pressure from Republicans, a bill banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender youths in Louisiana that was narrowly killed by a legislative committee last week has been resurrected. In a rare occurrence, the Senate voted to recommit the controversial bill to a different committee, giving it a second chance […]

18 hours ago

FILE - Adrian Jawort, of Billings, Mont., speaks at the Rainbow Rally on the steps of the Montana S...

Associated Press

Library cancels trans speaker after Montana bans drag readings

Montana’s new law banning drag reading events at public libraries has led to the cancellation of a Native American transgender speaker in a southwestern Montana city on Friday. The Butte-Silver Bow Public Library canceled its “First Friday” speaker, Adria Jawort, at the recommendation of county attorneys, library director Stef Johnson said in a statement on […]

18 hours ago

FILE - Kelsey Juliana, of Eugene, Ore., a lead plaintiff who is part of a lawsuit by a group of you...

Associated Press

Oregon youths’ climate lawsuit against US government can proceed to trial, judge rules

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge ruled on Thursday that a lawsuit brought by young Oregon-based climate activists can proceed to trial years after they first filed the lawsuit in an attempt to hold the nation’s leadership accountable for its role in climate change. U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the plaintiffs […]

18 hours ago

A peregrine falcon takes off from a ledge at 100 S. Wacker Dr. in the Loop, Thursday, June 1, 2023 ...

Associated Press

Peregrine falcons protecting chicks and dive-bombing Chicago pedestrians

CHICAGO (AP) — A pair of peregrine falcon parents are raising three chicks along Chicago’s busy Wacker Drive, and beware to any pedestrian who ventures too closely to their nest. Just ask Chuck Valauskas, who was struck by one of the falcons. The patent attorney was leaving work one day last week, walking below the […]

18 hours ago

Associated Press

Louisiana ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill for public school classrooms advances in the legislature

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A bill that would broadly ban K-12 public school employees in Louisiana from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom is nearing final passage after securing the endorsement of a key Senate committee Thursday. Louisiana’s legislation, which already passed the House and advanced from the Senate Committee on […]

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Desert Institute for Spine Care

Spinal fusion surgery has come a long way, despite misconceptions

As Dr. Justin Field of the Desert Institute for Spine Care explained, “we've come a long way over the last couple of decades.”


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

How to identify the symptoms of 3 common anxiety disorders

Living with an anxiety disorder can be debilitating and cause significant stress for those who suffer from the condition.

(Photo by Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)...

Cox Communications

Valley Boys & Girls Club uses esports to help kids make healthy choices

KTAR’s Community Spotlight focuses on the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley and the work to incorporate esports into children's lives.

Iowa may limit gender identity, sexual orientation teachings