DES MOINES — A bill to ban Iowa schools from having materials or instruction about gender identity in kindergarten through eighth grade classes has cleared a senate subcommittee.
Bill backer Amber Williams of Urbandale said as a kid, she was a tomboy. “By all definitions I identified more as a boy than I did a girl, but had I been subjected to gender identity by my trusted teacher back then, I would have completely thought I was born the wrong gender,” Williams said. “And I’m telling you that if my parents told me that I could be a boy, I would have absolutely said: ‘Sign me up.’”
Jill Bjorklund of Ankeny, an opponent of the bill, spoke on behalf of Lily, her seven year old. “This bill would turn her safe, accepting school into a landmine for her teachers. One wrong move addressing her needs and they’d be breaking the law, possibly facing lawsuits” Bjorklund said. “…This bill won’t stop trans kids from existing, it will just make it harder for them to keep on living.”
The bill says parents could sue a school if there’s any instruction about gender identity in elementary or junior high. Pam Gronau of Urbandale told senators schools should focus on reading and math.
“As a Christian family, our belief is that God created man and woman. The Bible is the only history my family needs when discussing God’s creation,” Gronau said. “…I just want to be able to discuss these matters at home with my children in the way that I see fit, as it is my God given right to do.”
Stacy Schmidt, a social studies teacher in Des Moines, told lawmaker the bill sends the message that LGBTQ students should be ashamed of who they are.
“Not only would this and other bills censor these important conversations that are central to students understanding themselves nd others, it would also prevent educators from fulfilling the role of being trusted, safe adults for all young people.”
A House subcommittee has approved a bill that would require educators to get written permission from a parent before referring to a student by a gender that’s different from the one listed on the student’s birth certificate. The bill is co-sponsored by 40 of the 64 Republicans in the Iowa House and it would forbid teachers from “encouraging” or “coercing” a student to transition to a different gender.