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Advocates See Number Of Anti-LGBTQ Proposals 'Accelerating' In Iowa Legislature

FILE - In this April 19, 2019, file photo, a gay pride rainbow flag flies along with the U.S. flag in front of the Asbury United Methodist Church in Prairie Village, Kan., United Methodist Church leaders are proposing creation of a separate division that would let more traditional denominations break away because of the disagreement with churches over the UMC’s official stance on gay marriage. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
Charlie Riedel
Advocates for LGBTQ Iowans say they are seeing more anti-LGBTQ proposals in the Iowa Legislature than ever before.

A few Republican lawmakers have proposed a dozen anti-LGBTQ policies in the first few weeks of Iowa’s legislative session.

“It’s definitely accelerating at a pace that we haven’t seen in the past before,” said Damian Thompson, a lobbyist for Iowa Safe Schools. “And it is much more targeted, rather than being broad in terms of sexual orientation and gender identity. And I mean, it’s disappointing to see. It’s disheartening for the thousands of students we serve across the state.”

One bill would ban certain forms of medical care for transgender youth.

Another would require schools to notify a parent or guardian of their child’s pronouns if they request that information.

“That would put many students in direct danger,” Thompson said, adding that homeless youth are disproportionately LGBTQ. “Their parents kicked them out because of the way they identify, and we see a large portion of the students I’ve worked with that are either homeless or are abused by their parents, or neglected because of the way they identify.”

Other bills would require use of school bathrooms and participation in school sports to be based on a student’s sex assigned at birth.

This kind of anti-trans legislation is coming up in other state legislatures, too, The 19th reported.

Thompson said he believes most of these bills won’t advance in the Iowa Legislature, but is still unsure about a few. He said even if the bills don’t get a hearing, proposing these policies sends a message.

“LGBTQ youth go through some of the hardest experiences out of all our students in our communities in Iowa and especially transgender youth,” Thompson said. “So for the Iowa Legislature, the highest elected body in the state of Iowa, to continually reject their identities and reject their basic humanity is really discouraging for students.”

Another bill seeks to remove gender identity as a protected class from the Iowa Civil Rights Act. This was also proposed in 2020, but it did not advance.

In 2019, Republican lawmakers voted to exclude transition-related surgery from coverage by publicly-funded health insurance.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter